Crafting the perfect yoga soundtrack. Lexie Williamson

A missive pinged into my inbox recently from one of my employers: a well-known chain of gyms. It stated that us yoga instructors were no longer allowed to play music in class for licensing reasons, apart from a list of pre-agreed bland stuff you hear in beauticians.
Some teachers at the gym treated the no-music announcement with indifference. They like a reverential hush in the studio apart from the sound of deep breathing, toes sticking and unsticking on mats and the odd tummy gurgle.
I’m not one of them. I love to play music. I believe it can fast-track time-pressed, harassed students into the yoga zone, suspend them there for an hour and lay them softly into savasana – if you craft the playlist correctly. It can also provide the perfect backdrop to self practice.
Many a happy evening has been spent concocting the ‘perfect’ yoga playlist for vinyasa flow.
So what denotes a perfect playlist? For me, there are a few rules. Firstly, it must contain no obvious lyrics to distract or annoy so play the track all the way through to monitor the words. I recently aired a trippy version of a Bob Marley tune only to hear Burnin’ and Lootin’ drifting across the studio.
Secondly, your selected tunes should be timeless. Some music is hard to pin down to a time or place. Legendary music man and inventor of the ambient sound Brian Eno is the master to consult. A good trawl around Spotify will also unearth some classic gems but clear your diary as this takes time.
Thirdly, watch your beats. In my opinion they should be non-existent (classical piano works well) or low-key, quiet and unobtrusive. Thomas Newman’s entire American Beauty film sound track is pure gold and dub reggae could be made for sun salutations.
There are many teachers, of course, who would disagree with this last rule and regularly blast pop or rock songs out in class. I had a fantastic teacher and DJ who pushed the music/yoga boundaries with mostly excellent results although 80’s
pop didn’t work for me personally. I was transported from the yoga studio to acne, heartache and the school disco.
My last and final rule is that a good playlist mirrors the mountain-like curves of a flow yoga class. That means beginning with soft, gentle tunes, gradually upping the tempo for the standing sequences then easing back into mellow tunes as the students lower to the floor. Oh and go easy on the Indian flute. You can definitely over egg the Indian flute.
Still stuck for tunes? Select Massive Attack’s ‘Teardrop’, roll out the mat, close your eyes and off you go.

Lexie Williamson is a yoga teacher and health and fitness writer (


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