Yoga Teachers: Justify Everything in Your Playlist

Dear Yoga Teachers,

This article was written for those teachers who play music in their classes.  For those who work without music, carry on doing what you’re doing.

Music is an integral part of the experience of my classes. It is not a secondary element, nor an afterthought, nor a nice addition in order to create ambiance.  

Music is as important as the asanas, as important as my sequencing, as important as my voice.  The experience that I create during the 1 hour and a half of my class is a complete experience, carefully crafted with purpose.

Background music is…..just….should be illegal.  The rule is either have no music or have great music.  Whatever goes in between silence and great music is mediocre at best and disturbing to the nervous system at worst.

By great music, I mean exactly what I mentioned above.  Great music is a playlist that is as important to the experience of your class as everything else.  Great music is a playlist that is carefully crafted with purpose and that is synchronized to the flow and to the asanas in your sequence.

Your playlist has to SPEAK the aspects of the practice that you as the teacher can not express with your words, with you voice, with your intonation.

Your playlist has to express the objectifs of your class, the results that you are expecting, the direction in which you want to take your students.

Last week I wrote about justifying everything asana in your sequence.  Along the same lines, I want to express the notion of being able to justify every song in your playlist.

You must be able to justify every single song in your playlist.

I’ll say it again!

You must be able to justify every single song in your playlist.

“Because I like/love this song"

“Because it’s peaceful"

“Because it’s chill"

Theses “becauses”  are not justifications. They’re weak excuses for not having seriously considered the impact that good and bad music makes in a yoga class.

As I also explained in my previous article, the experience of yoga is just that:  an experience. 

You must wholly experience your songs before you include them in your playlist.  Then you must wholly experience your playlist.  Then you must wholly experience your sequence with the playlist that was specifically designed FOR THIS SEQUENCE.

Once again, this experience is not mental/intellectual.  It is a whole being experience.  Do not justify your songs from a mental/intellectual level.  What does each song do to you on ALL levels? How does your WHOLE BEING respond to the song?  Does this respond align with your sequence?  Your analysis of the relevance of your songfest can only be done in this manner.

Just like in your sequence, you must be aware of the Trimurti—Brahma, Vishnu, Shiva.  The beginning the middle the end.  You must have your theme at the forefront of your mind at all times.  You must be aware of the effects of your playlist and sequence on the nervous system.  You must be aware of the effects on the koshas.  You must be aware of the pacing and evolution of the experience that you are aiming to create.

We’re aiming for excellence in teaching are we not? Mediocrity is so…..mediocre.

In order to create playlists with purpose, you need to spend a lot of time with music.  If you don’t want to spend so much time with music, that’s perfectly fine!  Just don’t play music during your class.  Don’t do it.

A playlist for a yoga class that is not carefully handcrafted with purpose creates confusion on a deep level for students.  The music says one thing and the asanas and the teacher says something else.  If the alignment between music and asana is left to chance, then there will be inevitable happy surprises of resonance and everyone is surprised by this coincidence.  Do not let this alignement be left to chance and coincidence.  Consciously, with serious effort, create a harmonious experience that carries students to a state of yoga, of integration.  Bad music even with a great sequence does not lend itself to integration, but separation of the being.  

In my teacher training, the homework between modules for students is to create sequences AND playlists that are specifically created for their sequences.  In our online community, students post their sequences and playlist and I give them individual feedback on their proposed yoga experience (sequence and playlist).  I take the time to give detailed feedback as this skill is sooooo important.  Yes, this is a skill.  Yes, it requires practice.  And Yes, it requires time and effort.  But, I’m telling you that it’s worth it.  It’s really worth it.

Take your students on a yoga journey with purpose.  Be purposeful with your playlist.

(You're welcome to follow me on Spotify where you'll find my playlists, playlists in progess, as well as music that I just like.)

Do your music right.


Mira Jamadi

Professeur et formatrice de vinyasa yoga

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