Tag Archives: mindfulness

Creating a Yoga Playlist

In the modern, western yoga world, music has become as much a focal point of the classes we take as the sequences and messages being taught within them. Music is a powerful art form that has the ability to create an environment and a vibration within a yoga class that can elevate our experience of it to the next level. Music is a big part of my teaching and the craft of creating yoga playlists is something I am very passionate about and enjoy greatly. Humbly, I receive a lot of positive feedback on my playlists and am often asked for advice, tips, and tricks on how to create a phenomenal yoga playlist. So today, I am sharing my process and perspective for creating a yoga playlist!

1. Music is personal

The first thing to keep in mind when creating a yoga playlist is to remember this: like any art, music is personal. While there are some standard dos and don’ts, at the end of the day there is no completely solid right or wrong way to create a yoga playlist. Teach to music that is true to you and moves you physically and emotionally. Dis-concern yourself with whether or not your students will like the songs and artists you play.  As long as the playlist is authentic to you and your style, it will land properly and students will appreciate it. You do you!

2. Music supports, not competes

While music has become a big focal point in yoga classes, do remember that THE YOGA is still the leading star. Your music should support the yoga you are teaching, it should not distract you or your students away from it. Think about a film soundtrack: it helps to add emotion and energy to the scenes in the film but the actors delivering their lines are still at the heart and center telling the story. If you feel that your music is overpowering you, speeding you up, or slowing you down, then you may consider revising. You should feel like your music is scoring your class in sync with your own rhythm, words, and energy. When it clicks, you will know.

3. Genre

Again, music is subjective and personal. When you set out to build a playlist, you can really dabble into any genre that resonates with you. In general, the genres that we are currently hearing the most in yoga classes are alternative and alternative electronic pop, chill wave, synth wave, and folk. Within these genres you may commonly hear some of the following artists: Odesza, Sol Rising, East Forest, MC Yogi, Flume, and Trevor Hall, just to name a few.   

I think that these genres and these artists are a great place to start when diving into building a yoga playlist for the first time, but you are free to explore all possibilities. I have been to classes where all the music is late 60’s/early 70’s rock n’ roll or 90’s R&B or completely Bollywood. As long as the genres feel right for you and the environment you are striving to create, then you are good to go!

4. Style & Feel

When I build a playlist, I strive to create a playlist that sounds and feels like a cohesive body of work. I like all the songs to have uniting elements to them. This often means using songs from the same or similar genres or else looking for other qualities that connect the feel of the music. 

For example, in my playlists:

  • Yoga 22 – Edgy- the majority of the songs include deep, heavy beats, guitar riffs, and metallic effects.
  • Yoga 18- Tropical – the majority of the songs have qualities indicative of summertime in the tropics, in this case, the use of steel drums is prominent throughout.
  • Yoga 7-Celtic – the majority of the songs include a lot of violin and harp strings playing rifts we often associate with Celtic culture from what we see in television and in film.

While there are various artists throughout the playlists, the songs fit together, flowing into each other with an organic feel. I tend to avoid jumping from one extreme genre to another without a natural progression in between. Imagine that you are a music artist creating a new album and you have a certain feel you want for the album – that’s the mindset I put myself in when creating a playlist.

5. Temp & Energy

Obviously, we want the tempo, energy, and feel of the music to match what we are doing in the yoga practice at any given point. When we are warming up and cooling down, we want slower, calmer music. When we are flowing a Sun Salutation or building into a challenging strength series, we want more upbeat, powerful music. You want your music to build and dip in all the right places. Think about how you sequence a yoga class:

  • what parts are slower and steadier?
  • what parts are faster and more challenging?
  • what parts are meditative?

Try to align the rhythm of your music with the rhythm of your class.

See the chart below. On left you will see the various sections of a standard vinyasa yoga class. On the right are adjectives that should match up with your music in these sections.

For example: “soft” means more gentle, calm music, “strong & bright” means more upbeat and fast paced, “steady” means there is a strong beat to the music without being too fast or slow.

How to Build a Yoga Playist - for yoga teachers and practitioners

6. Buffer & Layer

The hard truth is that you are rarely going to create a playlist where the exact song you want for a certain section of class starts and ends at exactly the right time. For example, you might only envision a specific song for Sun B, but there is a high possibility that song is not going to start right as you begin Sun B, and it may not last the entire Sun B either. The solution here is to layer songs that work in this section of class.

For example, in my playlists, I have 1 or 2 songs I intend to be played during Sun B. However, there is an additional song before and after the intended song(s) which give me some space if it takes us longer to start and end Sun B.  Additionally, buffering and layering in this way gives you some more versatility in your playlist! Perhaps you play one of the Sun B songs one week and the other the next to keep the same playlist feeling fresh and new for your students.

7. The Process

Once again, music is subjective and personal, and so is the process of creating with music. You may have a creative process that works for you already, and that is fantastic! Here, I will simply share what works for me and some of my trainees that have resonated with this process.

1. Think of the “vibe” you want for your playlist

  • This can be based off of a song or 2 you have recently discovered or something more abstract you have dreamed up in your head.

2. Identify 1-2 songs to start the build of your new playlist

  • Drop them into a folder or a playlist in whatever system you are using

3. Discover more songs that fit with your original 1-2 songs

  • Find songs in similar genres and by similar artists
  • Find songs with different tempos from slow to fast
  • Drop them all into the folder or playlist at random
  • I recommend 16-20 songs for an hour long yoga class
  • Pro-Tip: Streaming Platforms like Spotify make it easy to discover more artists and songs similar to the one already in your playlist with their Suggested Song feature.

4 – Determine where the songs should be placed

  • This where we get artsy!
  • Listen to your playlist on shuffle, hearing each song intently.
  • Ask yourself: “Where does it go?”
    • Do you envision it playing while flowing Sun B? Or working through a Strength series? Or while Integrating or Restoring? Wherever you imagine it working best, drag the song to the front, middle, or back where it will line up with yoga sequence.
  • Once you have arranged the songs in a general order you think will work, listen to the playlist straight thru from beginning to end. Ask yourself: “Does it work?”
    • Does anything need to be adjusted? What needs to be changed? Do you need to flip a song or two? Adjust as needed.
    • Is anything missing? What needs to be added?
  • “Finalize” your playlist

5 – Use your playlist!

  • Teach class with your playlist and see how it works!
  • You may find that the playlist is perfect!
  • You also may find that a few aspects do not work quite as well as you imagined. Make a mental note of these aspects so you can adjust later.

8. Have Fun!

How lucky are we as yoga instructors that we get to make playlists as part of our jobs? It’s an awesome aspect of our job, so I believe we should enjoy it. Take yourself seriously and put effort into your playlist, yes, but also remember this is meant to be a fun part of our role as instructors, so make sure it is as such.

My fellow yoga instructors, I hope that you have found this article helpful or at least intriguing! Let me know what works for you and what does not as I am always open to hearing different perspectives and learning!

Happy Playlist Making!

Today’s Gratitude’s & Tomorrow’s Visions

Today I am sharing about a mindful practice I have begun over the past few months that I have found to be meaningful and powerful in my life. I call this practice “Today’s Gratitudes & Tomorrow’s Visions”. This practice is a journal based daily ritual very much akin to the Gratitude Journal often promoted by Oprah. In this practice, I take a few moments before going to sleep to write 3-5 things I feel gratitude for, followed by 3-5 things I would like to manifest the next day. The gratitudes elevate my positive vibrations and the requests for manifestations go out into the universe overnight to hopefully brew and make their way back to me. Having continued this practice for about three months now, I can tell you honestly that Today’s Gratitudes & Tomorrow’s Visions have had big impacts on my life! So grab one of those pretty journals you have on your shelf that you’ve never used and let’s get writing!

Today’s Gratitudes & Tomorrow’s Visions How To:

Step 1: Make a Few Minutes Before Bedtime

I deeply feel that the very end of the day is the best time to practice this ritual. Reflecting with gratitude on the day stimulates a sense of contentment and peace. Expressing hopes and dreams for the following day allows us to go to sleep without imaging or worrying about it because you have gotten it out on paper.

Step 2: Today’s Gratitudes

Write 3-5 things you are grateful for from the day. Write whatever first comes to mind. Write them in bullet points and keep them short and sweet. You can be grateful for big or small things, grand or simple things, deep or silly things; as long as it is authentic and true, it is noteworthy.

Somedays what comes to mind for me are the big, obvious things like my family and friends, my health, for simply being alive. Somedays what comes to mind are really ridiculous things like peanut butter and coffee (peanut butter makes an appearance in my journal at least twice a week) – but I am grateful I have those things as simple as they are, and so I still feel inclined to write them.

Try not to overthink, really just reflect and find gratitude for all.

Step 3: Tomorrow’s Visions

Write down 3-5 things you would like to transpire the following day. Similarly, write these aspirations as bullet points and keep them short.

What is different and key when it comes to Tomorrow’s Visions is to keep your requests somewhat open-ended. As I discuss in my piece, “Manifestation: There’s Something to It”, it’s important to leave room for the universe to gift back to us what it feels is right for us, even if it is slightly different than what we originally envisioned. If you write out how you want tomorrow to unfold hour by hour, then you have really limited all of the possibilities the universe might have brought your way, and thus the universe is probably going to ignore you and you will be disappointed.

So rather, you keep your requests for manifestation more broad: I would like to have a good meeting with my boss, I would like to receive good news of some kind, I would like to find some time in the day for me to relax a little bit, etc. These requests leave plenty of room for the universe to cook up something for you that fulfills the request, perhaps even beyond what you could have imagined!

So keep it open, and of course, keep it positive!

Step 4: Start Writing!

This is a practice I have found to be uplifting, and at times, magical. I feel the expression of gratitude changing my energy for the better, and I have seen how my visions have been manifested in some shape or form the following day. It’s just another way to elevate the vibe of your life!

I hope you find this practice to be as wondrous as I do!

Do you have other daily practices or rituals you do to elevate your vibe? Let me know below!

 

 

Age 26

I am 26 years old today. Birthdays, for me, are a lot like how most people see the New Year. I look at each birthday as a new starting point from which we can set new goals and launch into a time of new opportunities. As oppose to looking at what happened between January 1st, 2016 and January 1st, 2017 and so on and so forth, I tend to look at and reflect on what happened in the space of time that I was aged 23, 24, 25. Where did I travel? What new activities did I try? Who did I spend time with? What experiences did I have? What did I create? It is always an interesting and insightful reflection, after which I start to think about what I want my next age to look like. Where will I go? What will I see? What will I do? What will I learn? There is no way to assign definitive answers to these questions, but I can set intentions on what I might like those answers to be.

Oddly, I have always been enamored with the number 27; there is no rhyme or reason for this, it has just always been my favorite number since I was a little kid. And so, I feel that age 27 is going to be a big, powerful, and exciting year for me. But for now, I am age 26. So I think that this, the year of 26, is going to be my year of setting intentions, meditating on those intentions, and ultimately manifesting those intentions in the year of 27. I see age 26 as the year of planting seeds and watering those seeds, and I see age 27, God-willing, as the year of harvest.

So I begin to flow through my new age, ever present in the moment and breathing in gratitude for where I am at a in the here and now, and while chanting positive energy and intention into the universe for the present and the future.