When it comes to yoga and music, the most sought-after genres that yogis play while practicing range broadly--from calming, meditative lullabies to funky, vibey grooves and earthy instrumentals. Most instructors already have enviable playlists dialed in for their classes that please the masses, but if you’re yoga-ing at home, you have the perfect setting for curating and listening to a soundtrack you fancy most--personalized to boost your mood, energy, and productivity throughout your session.
So next time you have downtime, pop open your media player and cultivate some tribal Buti beats or spiritual Bhajan hymns favored by the yoga community. For a slow, steady, and restorative Vinyasa, search for genre terms such as meditation music, traditional Indian, devotional, indie/alternative, and classical. We attribute these soothing sounds and cultural rhythms to relaxation, brain stimulation, and tranquility.
Many modern yogis may also gravitate their practices towards the unconventional tunage of R&B/soul, reggae, folk, tropical jazz, and electronic during their flows. These upbeat styles of audible sensory tend to match a more vigorous, faster-paced, or playful Bikram session. As you salute the sun to energizing riffs and motivational tracks, notice a swaying sweat break and release of endorphins.
If you favor the natural harmonies and ambient sounds around you instead, all the power to you. Totally understandable if, for you, silence is golden and you’d rather audibly connect/align with your breath. In fact, in many lineages, music is a no-go that distracts from the intense focus and concentration we should be practicing. So make sure that if you do choose to press the play button, it enhances rather than distracts from the experience.
For the music-lovers though, note that most yoga sessions average 30-60 minutes, and the average length of a song is around 3-4 minutes--that’s enough time to flow through about 8-17 songs. So think about how you’d like to set the pace by listening to the BPM (beats per minute) or tempo of each song and order your list accordingly. Many teachers often start off slower for warm-ups and build up from there to a faster pace for Sun Salutations. Then take it back down again at the end for seated poses and Savasana. Also keep in mind while creating a playlist, to not include too many words--they tend to be distracting, so stick to songs with few, or even no, lyrics. If your songs do have words, choose ones more with positive, elevating messages and less about loss or heartbreak.
Volume may also be important, and could mean the difference between pleasant background sound and loud music that’s just drowning out your thought and practice. Lastly, change is good, so update your movement melodies often so things don’t get stale on repeat. Whether you’re feeling (or want to feel) soulful, spunky, peaceful, upbeat, or subdued, remember your music will likely reflect your immediate mood and spirit.
And if you’d rather leave DJing to algorithms, let songs come on at random through steaming services or subscription radios like Pandora, Spotify and Youtube. Many varieties of the aforementioned genres, and artists best for yoga, can be found through a few, quick searches followed by an organic cascade of related content.
Just press play and Hatha like nobody's watching.