For me, creating music playlists is like piecing together an intricate puzzle of joy. Whether they are playlists based on themes, moods, or occasions, when I get into the iTunes downloading zone, I am entranced with this passion of mine. This is especially true when I’m creating a song list for one of my yoga classes.
As a yoga teacher, my goal is to create a welcoming, peaceful atmosphere for my yogis, and one of the ways I do this is through music.
Music is meditation, and by incorporating the right elements of sound, you can be transported to that place that is calm and devoid of the clutter that can occupy your minds. Not only that, music grounds you and helps you to connect with your soul- I’d like to think that music is the rhythm of your soul.
Even though I do enjoy traditional yoga music, there’s something special and fun about playing contemporary music in a yoga class. I’m very strategic with my selections and my goal is to create a well-balanced set of songs that will carry my yogis energetically through class until the final relaxation pose of savasana.
Here are my current top 10 non-yoga, yoga tunes:
- Aqueous Transmission – Incubus. This unique inclusion on the list is from one of my favourite albums of the early ‘00s, Morning View. While singles like “Wish You Were Here” and “Nice to Know You” gained commercial success from the album, Aqueous Transmission is a nearly 8-minute masterpiece that incorporates instruments such as a Chinese “pipa” (basically a kick-ass Asian mandolin), a Japanese orchestra, and even frog sounds. Brandon Boyd, the handsome lead singer of Incubus, even once joked that the purpose of the song was to make the listener “pee in his/her pants from relaxation.” While luckily, that has never happened in one of my yoga classes, this song is perfect for the first few minutes of class during centring.
- Flight Facilities – Claire de Lune (feat. Christine Hoberg). Once centering is complete and its time to start incorporating bigger movements to warm up, I like to increase the speed of the music. This song has a slightly celestial, sleepy, but determined sound to it, and is perfect to play when first getting acquainted with downward dog. I actually discovered Flight Facilities from an episode of Grey’s Anatomy, a show that consistently selects unique artists for the soundtrack of their show. I get a lot of my music from Greys, The O.C (miss that show) and Dawson’s Creek (so much teen angst).
- Coffee – Sylvan Esso. This song has similar musical elements as Flight Facilities, but because its called Coffee, I feel like I’m a cool hipster while practicing yoga to it. It’s a bit folk-y but reframed with electronic musical elements that provides the right amount of chill-ness for yoga.
- Porcelain – Moby. This is the quintessential song from the movie, The Beach, and whenever I listen to it I am transported back to my time on Maya Bay in Thailand—the location of where the movie was filmed. A beach is my happy place, and so by bringing this song into a yoga space, I’m hoping to include some of those happy beach vibes.
- Bravado – Lorde. I’m pretty sure Lorde can do no wrong as an artist. The depth she has as a musician at such a young age boggles my mind. A bit of a quicker pace, I like to cue Bravado to when I start instructing Sun Salutations A’s. Any song off of Lorde’s debut album, Pure Heroine, has the potential to be a key yoga song.
- Wonderwall – Ryan Adams. I first heard this heavenly work of art back in ’04 or ’05 on the dearly departed show, The O.C, when Seth and Summer slow danced to it (Man, do I ever wish that show didn’t take such a nosedive during season three). Wonderwall by Oasis is undoubtedly one of the best songs of the ‘90s, but slow it down, use only acoustics, and add a hauntingly beautiful voice by Ryan Adams, and you’ve got the perfect song for pigeon pose in yoga. This song cocoons you into the hip opener, where stress is released and relaxation sets in. You are in the yoga zone.
- Let Go – Frou Frou. Vocals by the enigmatic Imogen Heap, Let Go has a magical yogic quality to it by mirroring the message yogis try to consistently express: let go. In yoga, we let go of limiting thoughts and stresses. By letting go, we become present, and Imogen’s synthesized voice changes the spatial composition and energy of a room so we can fully let go.
- Release – Pearl Jam. Eddie Vedder’s voice sounds like melted butter throughout this beautiful song. The chorus brings the repetition of the word “Oh,” but for yoga class purposes, it resembles a yoga “OM”. One word to describe this song: soothing.
- Magic – Coldplay. This is one of those songs where I feel like I’m part of a music video every time I listen to it, feeling a touch Dramatically Zen. When this song is on, I feel like I can flow through a vinyasa sequence a bit more gracefully and helps me connect to my inner beauty.
- I Know Places – Lykke Li. My good friend MK introduced me to this song about 2 years ago, and ever since I heard it, I can’t pick a better song for savasana- especially during my hot yoga classes. It’s slow, melodic, dreamy, and tranquil. The song is so incredibly stripped down with a slow, gentle strumming of a guitar and soft but crisp vocals. It transcends your physical body to that level of peace and relaxation that is the goal of the final resting pose of savasana.
More of my yoga tunes to come! Enjoy! Xo, Ang