Yoga Teachers: How to Build a Playlist

There are many ways to sequence a class. Whether you are steering your students towards a peak posture, or simply looking to create a well-rounded full body practice, music can impact the way the class is received by your students.

Now, the world of music is vast, and this is a beautiful thing as it allows you to bring your own personal style into the room. No two playlists are exactly alike, so there is an opportunity to create a unique experience for your students with every playlist you create.

Inspiration and Creativity

Creativity is something that we all have inside of us and what it’s all about is finding out, how do we unlock that creativity? Music inspires me. It ignites the creative side of my brain and ideas start to flood in. More often than not, I will hear a specific song, and that’s where I begin to structure my class. Whether that song is upbeat or mellow, I will build around a specific piece of music until I’ve created a mixed tape that is perfectly in tune with the flow of my class.

Formula 1: The Arc Format

There are many ways you can look at infusing music into your class, depending on how you like to teach. We are going to cover what I call – The Arc format. Beginning by mastering this format will guide you into building on other structural models (such as Peak Posturing or Themed Classes).

The Arc Format is a model where you are aiming to deliver an integrated full body dynamic class. I consider there to be a seven part structure to a well designed yoga class, which I’ve laid out here in bullet points. Within that structure, you are reaching to link the right tone of music with emphasis to the present moment, posture, and movement. Essentially, you want the music to support your students in their practice.

    • Centering/Grounding  – I recommend starting off your classes in silence and then moving towards music. The start of a class is the opportune time to teach what yoga is beyond the postures. To infuse an idea or a concept that you can interlace throughout. Let your words be the powerful dynamic at this point, as you set the tone for what you are about to offer.

    • Opening – As you begin to move, you want to seek out songs that are slow, yet invigorating, up-lifting. One of my favorites in this category has been Good Life by Masis.
    • Warm Up – As you start to move, the music needs to begin to gradually gather momentum. So you’re looking for the middle of the road songs, not too slow, not too fast. Rainy Days by Sol Rising would be a great example or Out of Reach by Fakear.
    • Peak – This is where it starts to get really fun, as you get to choose songs that make you want to move. I tend to bring in beats that make me want to dance (and you know this if you’ve been in my classes). There’s no right or wrong here, it’s all about what gets you moving + what makes sense in your sequence. Choosing what you enjoy brings your own personal style to the class and if done well, will naturally draw the students into the moment.  Here are a few I love:

Even By clicking these links you’ll get some insight into my style. I want to emphasize that you’re own taste and flavor in music does not and should not be the same as mine! Your individuality here is another component to who you are as a teacher. Think of your music as a way to add your signature to your classes.

    • Cool Down – The cool down portion will be similar to what we were looking for in the warm up. Songs to signify to your students that the peak is over and they are on their way towards final relaxation. Decibel by The Analog Affair is a perfect example. Still has a steady beat, but slowing the overall tone.
    • Savasana – I have a pretty strict belief that songs for savasana not have any lyrics at all. Lyrics have the potential to take a students mind into the song, and in savasana, we aim to arrive into stillness. Look for songs that are instrumental, or consider going silent. No music can often evoke as much power as music in this part of the class. If you want music during final relaxation, I would look at songs like Dehydrated, Wilting, Weathered by BAILE or The Southern Sea by Garth Stevenson. You’ll be able to find a plethora of ‘yoga music’ out there for this section by simple searches in your specific music platform.

    • Closing – The last moments of your class provide you the opportunity to tie everything together. Your students will be the most receptive at this point (if the class was structured well!). Consider your opening message, what they practiced, and how yoga can move with them out of the classroom and into their lives. What tools did you just provide them? Again, your voice is your most powerful tool here – I would advise no music. Instead, work on being knowledgable in your field and then, speaking from your heart. Real always wins.

Music Playlist Platforms

Feel free to follow me on Spotify for playlists designed within this format. Spotify is my platform of choice but there are many other options available such as YouTube Red, Apple Music or Pandora Radio. I can’t stress strongly enough avoiding any ads playing through the speakers during your class. Purchasing a premium account is worth its weight in gold.

Upcoming In-Depth Sequencing Training

I’ll be teaching sequencing formulas during my upcoming Teacher Training in Nicaragua. We will cover vinyasa krama (wise progression) and various other ways to structure your classes. If you are interested in learning more about this training, click here for more information.

Play on.

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