Mood Music

How To Craft The Perfect Yoga Playlist

How To Craft The Perfect Yoga Playlist

Imagine you have a bowl of incredible vanilla bean ice cream, and the toppings you add to your sundae can only heighten the delicious experience, depending on what it is you are trying to create and satiate based on your cravings. Well, this is exactly how I think about teaching yoga and choosing my music – yoga being the ice cream, and music being the topping. There are numerous schools of thought on this topic. Many teachers and students alike believe that music is a distraction from the physical sensations one receives from the asanas (postures), while others believe it only enhances the experience of being able to let go of the mind chatter, and tap into the physical and subtle body.

Imagine you have a bowl of incredible vanilla bean ice cream, and the toppings you add to your sundae can only heighten the delicious experience, depending on what it is you are trying to create and satiate based on your cravings. Well, this is exactly how I think about teaching yoga and choosing my music – yoga being the ice cream, and music being the topping. There are numerous schools of thought on this topic. Many teachers and students alike believe that music is a distraction from the physical sensations one receives from the asanas (postures), while others believe it only enhances the experience of being able to let go of the mind chatter, and tap into the physical and subtle body.

Making the perfect playlists for specific sequences and/or types of classes is an art. It is a skill that is attained through practice, melodic and energetic understanding, as well as trial and error, based on the feedback received from students. When creating an experience for my Hip Hop Yoga (HHY) and Vinyasa yogis alike, I keep three specifics in mind: the energy level I’m trying to create and facilitate in the room, the type of physical flow sequence and the ‘T wave of sound.’

It’s crucial to consider the time of day and the day of the week in which each class falls. For example, on a Monday afternoon at 4:00 p.m., the energy of the room is often more times than not screaming manic-Monday exhaustion, and the last thing I want to do is take my students too far to one end of the spectrum; balls-to-the-wall fire style (pitta) versus chill, deep and grounding (kapha). I want to find a middle ground where the music helps to uplift and inspire peers to embrace the heat they are creating within, while maintaining, or reclaiming a sense of foundation. Quite the contrary is a class on Tuesday night at 7:45 p.m. Once the Monday blues wears off and the yogi swagger comes out to play, I start my playlist off with something deliberate. For example, “Baby Got Back” by Sir Mix-A-Lot is a great warm-up. It’s loud and it provides a laugh, it gets everyone shaking their tails in downward facing dog and all of a sudden, the energy in the room is pulsing and palpable to all.
 
Another style choice I consider is if I’m going to teach a Shiva Rea inspired flow – fluid, watery, yet strong – I will make sure that something other than Beastie Boys is playing. Linking specific songs to specific parts of the sequence is just as important to a Master Playlister as syncing breath with movement to an experienced practitioner. You can’t flow to choppy beats, just as you can’t lie in corpse pose while listening to Eminem. That said, Eminem is fantastic for the eight minutes of Free Flow or Yogi’s Choice I make sure to reward each class. The Free Flow songs are hands down the loudest, craziest, heart-pumping, bass-bumping, high-tempo songs on the playlist.

‘T wave.’ It’s not a musical term, but rather one I’m using to create a visual for you. When I choose my music, I make sure that there is a progression that begins with an intention to set a tone, remains steady, peaks in the middle (Free Flow AKA Yogi’s Choice) and then descends. The concluding rhythmic choice is one with a drone-like tempo, while the body begins to quite and prepare for stillness.

At the end of the day, your playlist should complement your sequence, and your beats should only enhance the flavor of your flow, thereby satiating that sweet craving. And that’s how a yogi achieves a musical ice cream sundae. Namaste!

Goldie Kaufenberg currently resides in Boston as a certified Yoga Alliance instructor and a mental health counselor. To learn more about her style and where to take her classes, visit GoldieYoga.com.

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victor

December 5th, 2011

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