I am going to start by saying that when I teach Yoga for Athletes I rarely use music, but there are times when it can work with the relaxation. However when I do use music I like to use something non-traditional, especially when I introduce it to athletes, this can help to keep it more relevant and less intimidating to anyone who is not interested in the spiritual side of yoga. (I can now just hear the traditionalists gasping at this suggestion but I live in the real world so like to practise my yoga that way.)
15 Awesome Tunes
1. Reverence - Faithless
This is easily my favourite one, it is mostly rap and will not be to everyone's taste but I find it a fantastic song to use for final relaxation. The words are particularly relevant to anyone that plays a team sport I find with the lines "You don't need eyes to see, you need vision" and "I have to admire your persistence, In sticking to a game plan, That brings you pain man" can easily be applied to a sport. The first quote makes me think about football and the best players are all thought to have vision, accurately predicting where others will be more than just seeing them. The second could apply to any sportsperson who is stuck in a pattern and needs to move out of it.
I have to admire your persistence, in sticking to a game plan that brings you pain man - Faithless Reverence http://tinyurl.com/o9t2rak
2. Waterfall - James
This to me is one of the best songs about non attachment that I have heard. It is done in a way that is less hippy and more mainstream. If you have not heard this song I can really recommend it. It is more upbeat and so is something that can fit into a more dynamic section of a class
3. Born This Way - Lady Gaga
Maybe it is a bit controversial to include Lady Gaga in a yoga playlist but for me you cannot beat this as a sun salutation song. The tempo is fast and good for the dynamic movement but the words are actually all about self acceptance. Love her or hate her Lady Gaga is herself and seems very comfortable in who she is and to be honest this song just makes me smile and want to move.
4. Braided Hair - Neneh Cherry
Another rap song this is also about self acceptance. Being in my 30s I am a big fan of songs from the 90s, I am happy to admit and this is a great one. It is perfect for when you want a mellow song but one that is not a complete relaxation song.
5. Breathe - Anna Nalick
A slower tempo song that is perfect for either a relaxation or for a breathing exercise. There are several times during the song where the line "Breath, just breath" is repeated which is actually great for a relaxation as it can actually work as a trigger to bring the attention back to the breath.
6. Foreshadowing - Duncan Sheik
This is probably the perfect relaxation song, it talks about sleep it is mellow and really will slow you down. Also if you are looking to do an extended relaxation at the end of the class it is 8 minutes long so is a great length for playing the whole song and then slowly coming out of the relaxation once it is over.
7. Shine on you Crazy Diamond - Pink Floyd
I have to be honest here and admit that I am a massive Pink Floyd fan and I think that everyone of their songs is brilliant for a yoga class (I also love Wish You Were Here) but this is my favourite. It is over 11 minutes long and most of it is electric guitar instrumental. If you haven't listened to it then trust me you should give it a go.
8. Depth Over Distance - Ben Howard
Another great song for a relaxation, this is just under 5 minutes and so better for a shorter relaxation. Be warned though I used this in a class of footballers and there is a key change in the middle of the song and one of the players told me it woke him up which could be a negative but also could help with refocusing.
9. Follow the Sun - Xavier Rudd
This song is off his album Spirit Bird and literally anything from the album would be excellent but this is my favourite. It is perfect to use for focusing at the beginning of a class and actually includes the line "Set your intention" which is awesome if you do intention setting at the beginning of your class.
10. Somehow - Citizen Cope
A mellow song that is short and just fits nicely into the middle of a class. I often like to include this on my playlist for my classes and it definitely adds a more alternative vibe to things.
11. Season Change - Susie Suh
An alternative artist (not to be confused with Siouxsie Sioux - just in case you were wondering!) and a mellow song that would fit just about anywhere in a class apart from maybe the most dynamic parts. This artist has some great work and many of it would work for an alternative yoga playlist.
12.Patience - Guns'n'Roses
This is one of my favourite Guns'n'Roses song and it has a lovely vibe that would be excellent for a final relaxation, especially if you are the type of person that finds patience a problem.
13. Southside of Heaven - Ryan Bingham
I just absolutely love this song. It is a little more upbeat and so maybe not best for the slower and quieter bits of a class but it is a great song and if you can get it in you should.
14. Ends of The Earth - Lord Huron
This is just a great mellow song to include in your playlist. It can be great to use to create the right vibe for your class and I love including it, even in my own practice.
15. Wait for Life - Emile Haynie and Lana Del Rey
Another song that just has a great vibe, I wouldn't build a class around it but it is definitely one to include. This is less about the words and more about the tempo and vibe of the song but I like it and that is what this post is about.
As you can see from the above list you do not need to stick to any conventions when it comes to yoga. Work with what you like, after all the best thing about musical taste is that it is personal. If you are practising at home it can be good to try and do it without music but often I go to the gym for a run and do some yoga after.
If you use alternative music in your own practise or yoga classes I would love to hear what you use, just add a comment below. I love hearing new things and also it interests me what inspires people. No judgement here just good old fashioned sharing!