Teaching Yoga, Yoga Practice

Class prep: Music Playlists

Creating a yoga sequence is becoming second nature to me. I’m seeing the relationship between poses much more clearly now, and I feel like I’m able to put together a pretty well balanced class (at least my students tell me that!). What I was feeling nervous about when it came to teaching classes was actually the music.

My taste in music can sometimes be described as annoying pop. I’m still a fan of Britney Spears, love her or hate her. And damn if those Taylor Swift songs don’t get stuck in my head when they come on the radio.

There’s also a side of me that likes “nerd rock,” which is how the band Guster has described itself. Indie rock, anything that can be heard at Austin City Limits and really sad ballads seem to be my jam. While I can shake my booty plenty to hip hop, I’m definitely not well versed in that genre, although the soundtrack to Hamilton is special and dear to my heart.

I’m so thankful for doing my teacher training under Erinn Lewis because she always has awesome music that adds something extra to her classes. It sets the tone. It creates a certain ambience. The playlist is put together in such a way that it carries you energetically from the first vinyasa to a proper savasana. I wanted to be able to DJ a class like her but still make it my own, ya know?

I struggled in the beginning to find tracks that didn’t have lyrics. As a teacher, it can be hard to lead a class over vocals in a song. I also find that if I have the volume turned down too low to keep the words from being distracting, it adds nothing to class, and I should skip music altogether. So I searched high and low for tracks that would fit the pace and style of my classes.

When I was starting, I did the trial for Spotify. They really do have a huge library of music, and the recommendations and playlists from others were easy to find. But seeing how I wasn’t making much money, I abandoned paying for Spotify’s ad-free service and instead use Amazon Prime Music since we already pay the Prime subscription.

I’ve found some artists that do light instrumental tracks that work well for my classes. Helios, Balmorhea, Bon Iver, The Album Leaf and Explosions in the Sky come to mind. From there, I’ll look at similar artists or recommended playlists and find a few more to add. While I currently have a free trial for Sirius XM radio, I’ve been flagging songs I hear on the Coffee House channel for acoustic versions or covers.

The biggest reminder I have for myself about music is to listen to a track COMPLETELY before adding it to my playlist. Some songs have a great opening riff or the first 90 seconds are great, but then things get a bit chaotic somewhere in the middle, which can be way off from where I am in my sequence.

I must be hitting a stride with my music selection lately because I’ve gotten requests from students to email them the playlist. I’m always happy to share if anyone is interested.

If you have some recommendations, send them my way!


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