6 Tips to Build an Inspiring Gentle Yoga Playlist | The Driven Yogi
By Myriam Rousseau
Being a yogi, dancer, and a musician, the union between music and yoga has always been a natural and powerful one.
Music heightens my practice; it leads me to deeper breaths, fuller extensions, and a more focused gaze, all while helping my body soften and open up just a little bit more.
This is why I choose to use music while teaching, and I try to create gentle yoga playlists that will support this enriching experience. I start the music either at the beginning of the class or just after settling in. When the music begins, so does the journey of the class.
Here are 6 tips that have helped me build gentle yoga playlists that inspire my students’ journeys.
1. Discover Your Natural Arc
What natural rhythm or cycle does your class follow? Most of my classes follow the same arc as would a day: waking up, opening up, winding down, resting. I build my gentle yoga playlists around this cycle.* Once you recognize your natural arc, your playlist can become a reflection of that arc.
* If you are creating a playlist for a restorative class, keep in mind that this type of class usually has a steady rhythm throughout. Your music should too.
2. Put Imagery to Each Song
Find images or words that could relate to each song. This can inform the order of the songs in your gentle yoga playlist. For example, some pieces make me feel like the day is dawning and make me think of images of morning light and a warm haze. I will usually place these songs at the beginning of my playlist, as we awaken the body.
Other songs evoke images of rain or night skies. I prefer to place these songs at the end of my class while we’re winding down and/or finding our way to floor poses and savasana.
* Note: Imagery can also be influenced by the tempo. Slower beats are often suited for the beginning or end of a playlist, while up-tempo beats can support the middle portion of class and standing postures.
3. Have One Gentle Yoga Playlist “Go-To”
Have at least one gentle yoga playlist “go-to” for when you find yourself tight for time, or if you have to sub for someone last minute.
4. Have a Playlist Just for Savasana
I recommend having a playlist uniquely for savasana. Fill it with the songs you love.
To me, savasana is like a gift. We are giving a moment to simply be in a state of receptiveness to all that is around and within us. Music can, without a doubt, deepen the experience in this pose.
I usually prefer instrumental pieces with a neutral quality so I don’t impose a feeling on students. Music of this sort allows them to have their own experience and let whatever emerges inside of them come to the surface. That being said, I do keep a few more ‘emotional’ songs that I choose to play when it feels right. For example, I have a special connection to the piece Spiegel im Spiegel by Arvo Pärt. I danced to it a few weeks before sustaining an injury that changed my life path. Many years later, I heard this song in a yoga class during savasana. It was an incredible moment which was so full of light, and tears of gratitude started streaming down my cheeks as I laid on my mat. It was a true gift.
5. Find Songs You Connected To
Finding music you feel connected to will translate into your teaching and can also inspire you during class. Don’t be shy to be unconventional. Using music you feel connected to, even if not the usual or popular yoga songs, can create magical moments in your classes. Call upon some of those pieces you enjoyed in a movie, during family moments, as a child, etc., and see how it feels to practice to them.
6. Sometimes, Don’t Use Music!
Although I prefer to use music during classes, there are times I may choose not to. Silence can fill the air like a symphony. Also, some studios have their own unique soundscape that replace music. For example, a particular street bustle or natural outside noises can end up serving as a gentle yoga playlist on their own. This is a lovely way to mix it up. Stay open and surprise yourself as a teacher.
Links to Myriam's Playlists:
Myriam's playlists are best suited for gentle flow classes, restorative, and prenatal/postnatal flow. To find out more about creating playlists more suited for power/vinyasa heavy classes, click here.
Myriam Rousseau is a former dancer turned yoga teacher based in Montreal. After sustaining a serious neck injury during her dancing career, Myriam naturally turned to, and fell in love with yoga. She completed her first YTT in 2010 and has been continuing her training ever since. After giving birth in 2013, she became passionate about teaching prenatal and postnatal yoga. Myriam is also a composer, artist, and blogger. You can hear her yoga music by typing in Hoam (on most music platforms), see her art on her site, and read her thoughts on motherhood and yoga on 10ThingsYogaMama.com.