The Power of a Playlist

Music moves people.  Granted, it will always be difficult to please all people in all your yoga classes.  But great vinyasa yoga teachers are those who can pack a lot of emotional power into their playlists. The following was inspired by the many inquiries I’ve had from our recent yoga teacher training graduates asking me for music recommendations.

I asked some of my absolute favorite yoga teachers to list their favorite yoga music. I can vouch for everyone on this list: these are master teachers in the field who have brought me to states of utter bliss, surrender to the present moment, and sometimes to tears, through their skillful combination of music, silence, and guided instruction. I asked these yoga teachers to list some of their favorite yoga music. I also asked them for their absolute, #1, top favorite song to play in a yoga class and to share any seeds of wisdom they might have for beginning yoga teachers specifically regarding the use of music… here’s what they have to say:

  • Carolyn Jyoti Burke, co-founder of DevaTree, says, “Choose something that inspires you to move and take the time to match your music/playlist to the energy of the class you are teaching so that your music can crescendo and come down like the energy of your class.”  Jyoti’s favorite song is Aria by Dido; and her Top Five albums used in a yoga class (listed as Artist – Album) are:
1. – Wade Imre Morissette – Yoga Music Flows Vol 1 and 2
2. – Michael Franti – Sounds of Sunshine
3. – Brenda McMorrow – Ameya
4. – Wade Imre Morissette – Maha Moha – The Great Delusion
5. – Wah – Jai Jai Jai
  • Ann Hunt of Evolve Yoga says, “Don’t feel like you have to use music…Silence is lovely.” When asked for her favorite song Ann said, “Oh so many…Be Thankful for What You’ve Got, Massive Attack, Blue Lines… :)” and her Top Five Albums/Artists to play in a yoga class are:
1. – Thievery Corporation
2. – Deva Premal & Miten
3. – Buddha Lounge
4. – David Darling
5. – Ben Leinbach

Chris Crotty, a visiting teacher at Pavones Yoga Center, had a response that mirrors Ann’s: “don’t always use music…we have forgotten how to hear silence….allow that opportunity….” Chris’ favorite song to play in a yoga class is The Wolf by Eddie Vedder, and his TOP FIVE are:

1. – carlos nikai
2. – snatum kaur
3. – patyi griffin
4. – john de kadt
5. – “powerful stuff”, sean hayes

My friend Jesse Barlow founded the Barefoot Wisdom Yoga Project. He wrote in from his home in Canada with the following words of wisdom: “Music is a very important part of my personal practice and when I use it in sessions I am guiding it is always something that I am listening to.  I have always been a fan of a whole class designed around Bob Marley, Pink Floyd, The Rolling Stones or Nightmares on Wax.  My most recent playlist are made up of  M83, James Blake, Red Hot Chilli Peppers, Digable Planets, Gotye and Citizen Cope.  If I just feeling like a relaxed but deep flowing sequence I could practice to Running Up That Hill by Placebo for an entire session.”

Beloved Katie Martin, a yoga teacher in Guanacaste, Costa Rica who sometimes drops in to teach during PYC yoga teacher trainings, wrote in to say “Only use music that moves your soul!”  The music that most moves her soul (Katie’s #1 song) is Miles Davis’ It Never Entered My Mind. Her top five albums/artists to play in a yoga class are:

1. – Michael Franti and Spearhead Yell Fire
2. – Mulatu Astatke
3. – Monks of Keur Moussa
4. – Natacha Atlas Arabesque
5. – Snatam Kaur

Pranams and endless gratitude to you, my esteemed yoga teachers and friends who shared your wisdom…


Indira | Pavones Yoga Center


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