Do you have a few minutes? Close the door if you can and tap the play button.

Turn it up. If this was a video, I’d be asking you to close your eyes and just listen…

Sit comfortably.

Inhale through your nose, and feel your breath fill your belly and move up to your ribcage (try not to let your shoulders creep up).

As you exhale, continue to relax your shoulders toward the earth, navel to spine, and let your tailbone get heavy. Nice.

Work in. A few more cycles of breath like this, just letting go of thoughts, distractions, what you’ve got to do or what happened before you got here. Just breathe. Feel your breath in your body. Expand. Contract. No worries. No plans. Feel just the sensation of your breath.

When my yoga teacher Jennilee Toner asked me to share some guidelines with her hot warrior yoga teacher trainees, I knew this would be something many of my creative, healing Lifeyum readers would appreciate.

Lifeyum yoga playlist 101

The music you play is an extension of your voice, so be true to yourself. Just like anything else, be you. From the moment a student walks in the studio, he or she is experiencing your class. It’s also nice to have a pre- and post-music to set the tone with selections as students arrive and as they are leaving. {It goes without saying, I suppose, that this is not your classical yoga or Baptiste (no music) class}

And if music is not your thing, there are many resources and guides to help you get there. Here’s where I like to start:

1. Build your library of music, categorizing by segments of your practice:

• Pre-class, set the tone, ambiance

• Centering, landing on the mat

• Exploring, awakening, warming up

• Building to peak poses (vinyasa flows)

• Winding down


• post-class music: What do you want to send your students out to the world with? How can the sounds help carry the feeling of openness, oneness, and relaxed sense of ease and vitality throughout their day or evening?

Sources of music:

Your own library. You, fabulous you, are always the best place to start. But as much as I love albums and my old CDs; electronic is the way to go these days, especially as a yoga teacher.

iTunes This is my foundation, and most of the yogi world use iSomethings if playing music during a class. Since Ping was regretfully phased out, the Genius suggestions and “you might like” playlist suggestions in the lower left of your screen often lead to great new tunes. iTunes Match ($24.99 a year) is so worth it: your entire music library, including CDs you’ve added, available on all your devices without syncing. Big time saver.

Yogi Tunes: Gone for a bit, it’s back and better! From their site: Finally, yoga teachers, you can focus on what you do best – leading excellent sequences – and be supported by what we do best: mixing great playlists. Yoga students, teachers, massage therapists, and music lovers can all enjoy the luxury of dropping into fresh, masterfully crafted sonic journeys that will enhance your lifestyle with greater depth, deliciousness, and inspiration. What do you get when you subscribe? You get DOWNLOADABLE playlists, pre-mixed by top DJ’s, sequenced for a variety of different flows. So each month you’re building your own music catalog, with our expert help! The value is a 50% discount on retail cost, and less time spent searching for and organizing music. Our DJ’s are hand-picked masters who’ve dedicated themselves to their craft.

Pandora: Set up stations by your favorite artist, genre, song, or composer, Pandora (free with ads, $35/year without) is another excellent source of music, new and old, well-known and completely obscure songs with interesting musical similarities to your choice. The more you give feedback —by giving thumb’s up/down—the better attuned Pandora becomes to your taste. Pandora is like putting a bookmark on a song or artist!

Shazam This brilliant app available on just about every mobile device and smartphone allows you to tap a button, allow your device to listen to a song (almost anywhere) and have the song, artist, and album identified and available for purchase right there.

There are lots of other sources, like Spotify, that I haven’t explored. I’d love to hear your experiences.

2. Freeflow in the beginning, but just start selecting songs. Plenty of them, because you can whittle it down later. Decide on the tone of your class, but think of the beginning and end of your playlist like musical bookends. Just choose songs from each category—most from the building, peak, wind down—so you have plenty for the duration of your class.

3. Once you have enough music, arrange the order of songs. This will be easier than you think because you’ll already have organized by opening, exploration, building, peak, wind-down, and savasana. The music follows the flow of your class, a bell curve in most.

Opening: Some teachers start off without music, and many prefer something more spiritual or mantra-like. The first song helps bring your students out of their thinking minds and into their bodies, letting go of their day/week so far, worries, and plans.
Exploration, building: The beat/pace slowly picks up.
Peak: Your crescendo, which can be chill, rock and roll, pop, soul, kirtan, drumming, you name it.
Wind-down: The wind-down songs are also a cue to you that it’s time to be heading toward savasana if you aren’t already.
Closing: There are so many options with your savasana music. Ideally quiet so your gentle guidance is audible on arguably the most important pose of all, allowing students to completely relax and their bodies integrate all the neurological information from their practice.

A few genres and artists that frequent my savasana selections: Kirtan/chanting (Krishna Das, Girish, Jai Uttal, Snatam Kaur), electronic/new age (Ashana, Liquid Mind, Steve Gold, Vive), Sigur Ros, Tibetan singing bowl recordings, or World (Donna DeLory, Shantala).


Let the grooving, moving meditations, dancing, and conversation about music begin!

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