If you’re a yoga teacher, you know the importance of a strong playlist in helping your clients find their zen. To help you keep the positive energy flowing, we’ve chosen 15 songs you need for your next yoga class. We’ve also created a Spotify playlist of these songs, which you can access at the bottom of the article.
The thinking behind this playlist
We’ve tried to cater to different tastes by incorporating songs from different time periods and genres.
We’ve also varied the tempo so that the music progresses with your class. We’ve started with tracks that have a low beats-per-minute (BPM) to get your students warmed up, steadily increased the tempo and then decreased it at the end as they’re cooling down.
If you practise an exclusively slow or fast form of yoga, that’s ok. You can always incorporate a few of these songs onto an existing playlist.
Without further ado, here are the songs we’ve chosen. This playlist is an hour and 11 minutes long.
Fink – Perfect Darkness
Genre: Indie folk
Tempo: 91 BPM
We’ve picked a slow acoustic track to get started. As with most of Fink’s songs, Perfect Darkness has a warm and delicate feel. The instrumentation builds as the song processes, so it’s ideal for getting your class warmed up. Its length also gives you plenty of time to open up and loosen the body.
Otis Redding – (Sittin’ On) The Dock Of The Bay
Tempo: 104 BPM
This song is a favourite among yoga instructors and you can see why. There’s so much to like about it, from the sounds of the waves crashing on the shore at the beginning to the whistles at the end. You can just feel the tension and negative energy slip away when you hear Otis Redding’s soulful voice.
The Doors – Riders On The Storm
Genre: Progressive rock
Tempo: 106 BPM
Next up we have another chilled 60s classic, from California band The Doors. This song opens with the sound of rain falling (is there a more relaxing sound?) and the rest is The Doors at their psychedelic best. It has sinister undertones at times – you have to detach the sound from the lyrics – but generally, it’s a very calming track. It’s also another long track to help you get your flow on.
Sigur Rós – Ágætis byrjun
Tempo: 129 BPM
Icelandic rock band Sigur Rós epitomise tranquillity. You’ve probably heard their track ‘Hoppípolla’ before, but they’ve got other masterpieces in their repertoire, like this one. The vocals and piano make you feel like you’re standing in a remote valley, observing Iceland’s stunning landscape. There aren’t many better out of body experiences than that.
The Beatles – Here Comes The Sun/The Inner Light (Love Version)
Genre: Pop rock/Indian music fusion
Tempo: 129 BPM
Is any yoga class complete without a song from The Beatles? You’ll be more familiar with the original version of ‘Here Comes The Sun’, but we prefer this version from their remix album Love. The opening sitar and tabla sounds evoke images of India, where yoga was born. The repetition of “sun” also gives the mind something to focus on. The best bit is the ending – if this doesn’t cleanse you, nothing will.
Sufjan Stevens – Mystery Of Love
Genre: Indie folk
Tempo: 133 BPM
You might know this song from the movie Call Me By Your Name. However, if you haven’t heard it before, you’re in for a treat. Sufjan Stevens’ trademark finger-picking playing style gives this song a consistent rhythm, and it lends itself perfectly to an asana. Stevens references a river in this song, and the river becomes more vivid the more you listen to it.
Bon Iver – Holocene
Genre: Indie folk
Tempo: 148 BPM
There’s something about this song that makes you feel at peace with the world. Whether it’s the soothing guitar sequence or the falsetto vocals of Bon Iver lead singer Justin Vernon, something keeps you coming back. Vernon describes ‘Holocene’ as “a song about redemption and realising that you’re worth something” – and any yoga practitioner can relate to this sentiment.
Fleetwood Mac – Landslide
Tempo: 160 BPM
We’ve now reached the fastest song on the playlist. However, ‘Landslide’ gives off the impression of not actually feeling very fast at all, due to its stripped-down instrumentation. The only instruments you’ll hear on this song are Lindsey Buckingham’s superb vocals and a guitar. Its guitar patterns are almost a carbon copy of those in ‘Holocene’, and the transition between the tracks is seamless.
Fleetwood Mac – Albatross
Tempo: 136 BPM
At this point, your class will start to wind down. That’s why the second Fleetwood Mac track on our playlist is noticeably slower than the first. We’ve also thrown in a song without lyrics to mix things up a little. In the absence of words, the hypnotic bassline and guitar slides steal the show. Also, listen out for the crashing cymbals imitating the sound of waves. Satisfying, right?
The Head And The Heart – Let’s Be Still
Genre: Indie folk
Tempo: 130 BPM
It’s quite fitting that the opening line to ‘Let’s Be Still’ is “You can get lost in the music for hours honey.” Some people think yoga is purely about finding yourself, but often it’s about losing yourself – in other words, losing negative thoughts and energy. And you can certainly get lost in this song. The steady rhythm and uniformity between guitar and drums will help guide you through any asana.
John Mayer – Gravity
Genre: Soft rock
Tempo: 124 BPM
This song should feature on every yoga playlist – it was the first one we thought of. ‘Gravity’ is textbook John Mayer, particularly the seductive guitar slides, and is a gentle song to wind down to. The last seven words are a perfect mantra for yoga, and life in general: “Just keep me where the light is.”
Damien Rice – Older Chests
Tempo: 111 BPM
Cannonball probably springs to mind when you think of Damien Rice. But ‘Older Chests’ – the track after ‘Cannonball’on Rice’s album ‘O’ – resonates just as much. Like its predecessors, ‘Older Chests’ contains stripped-back instrumentation for the most part, featuring just Rice’s voice and a finger-picked guitar. However, the male/female vocal harmonies and string section towards the end are nice finishing touches.
Jeff Buckley – Hallelujah
Tempo: 103 BPM
This isn’t the original version of ‘Hallelujah’ (Leonard Cohen wrote the original) but it’s the most famous. Jeff Buckley’s voice makes this song, and it’s so packed with reverb it sounds like he’s singing in a cave. Once again, a finger-picked guitar provides rhythmic consistency, allowing your body to move with the song.
Above & Beyond – Believer
Tempo: 97 BPM
We’re now below the 100BPM mark and the penultimate song on our list is ‘Believer’, from electronic group Above & Beyond’s new album Flow State. This album has been specifically created for yoga and meditation, which tells you everything you need to know. Once you’ve heard the magical piano melody, you can’t get it out of your mind. It’s rain falling on a window pane in musical form.
Moby – Porcelain
Tempo: 95 BPM
And then there was one. This classic Moby tune contains the same mesmeric piano melodies as ‘Believer’, which are complemented by some atmospheric vocals and string samples. It’s about a break-up, but don’t let this put you off – the sounds are still uplifting. As Moby says in this song (but we mean it in a slightly more positive sense) – this is goodbye.
Here is the link to the full playlist – you’re welcome.
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