Don’t Cry Out Loud: The songs I don’t want to hear in yoga class

Broken record: songs played over and over in yoga classI’ve now heard Jeff Buckley’s “Hallelujah” in yoga three times this week alone. I am going out of my mind, which is kind of getting in the way of being mindful.

Because this earnest musical inspiration is enough to make me beg for divine mercy, and for a car blasting hip-hop to park outside the studio window, I’ve come up with an off-limits yoga playlist. A what-not-to-play playlist for yoga class. My kindly teachers, please listen up.

Verboten, from now on, are:

“Hallelujah,” Jeff Buckley
“Just Breathe,” Anna Nalick
“The Blower’s Daughter,” Damien Rice
“Breathe Me,” Sia (aka the finale of “Six Feet Under”)

And anything that’s a popular first dance song at a wedding: “Unforgettable,” for example, is unacceptable. As is anything I’d hear while getting a massage or that has a deliberate feel-good message.

Winning two gold stars for mixing it up this week is Katherine (or was it Caitlin?) at YogaVida who played Toto’s “Africa,” a remix of Kate Bush’s “Running Up That Hill,” and something by Arcade Fire.

I propose a yoga teacher training lead by DJs on how to make a melodic yet modern and possibly clever or humorous mix for class. (And please add a hint of ’80s new wave for me!)


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  1. June 17th, 2010 at 3:16 pm

    I had a yoga teacher play Ke$ha’s Tick Tok during the ab portion of a power yoga class not once but in three separate classes! I am all for a little variety in the music but that one just about killed me.

  2. June 18th, 2010 at 10:07 am

    I have to say as a long time yoga teacher who used to play all kinds of music from non-intrusive indie rock to bhajans straight from india, i am favoring now less music instead of more. As a teacher who asks for alignment and intelligent awareness in a vinyasa context, i find two things can happen: 1. i spend more time studying yoga philosophy and anatomy/kinesiology than i do making mixes, so the mixes don’t get a lot of attention anymore AND 2. most music in class is a distraction and keeps us from paying attention to what we are doing. That said, music can also be inspiring and fabulous. It is, after all, vibration, and good music can up our own vibes. At this point I play music for about 1/2 the class, and definitely not through the whole class. As new yorkers we are so bombarded by sound all the time..it’s nice to have some quiet. (And yes, the occasional hip hop car does provide some impromptu beats). But I think as teachers we need to seriously think about WHY we use music and make sure we are clear on that. And as for the list above, the only song on it that I’ve heard of is the Jeff Buckley, and I got sick of that one back in 97 or 98, whenever it was the Jivamukti staple for savasana! And really, we are not DJs, we are yoga teachers. And no matter what we play, some people will like it and some people will hate it and some people won’t hear it at all. The sad thing is most of the mixed CDs out there for yoga are terrible and not even worthy of an elevator. I’d love to hear other teacher’s perspectives on music..

  3. Well+Good
    June 18th, 2010 at 10:16 am

    Thanks for joining the conversation, Robin. Of course, my rant is partly done in jest, but I love your point on “why we use music and being clear on that.” I hope other teachers weigh in on this, too.

  4. June 18th, 2010 at 9:33 pm

    PLEASE come as my guest to PURE, Sherman M’s class- I refer to it as ‘death by YOGA, a sling shot to Nirvana’ class’, & one of the things that gets me through it is the music! also any class by Derek Beres (who often takes Sherman’s class)- world class DJ & incredible yoga instructor. Yoga’s all abt more heart & less snark. ~namaste!

  5. Well+Good
    June 18th, 2010 at 9:44 pm

    Thanks so much for your comment, Cheryl. I’d love a slingshot to Nirvana! As journalists on this beat for a decade (and practicing yogis), we’ve found there’s plenty of room in wellness journalism for playfulness, a critique, and a tad of snark, too. Particularly if there’s some truth in it.

  6. June 21st, 2010 at 5:12 pm

    Close, but “katelin”. the noon flow class @ yoga vida nyc? she has a very nice approach…

  7. January 4th, 2011 at 1:27 pm

    I’m just about to audition for a gym to teach yoga this Friday and I was wondering if any of you have any suggestions? Do I keep it purely up beat? Is it okay to mix in the Indie vibe? Should I stay away from Indian Ragas? Are the Beat prohibited?

    Thanks for your input!

  8. December 11th, 2011 at 12:46 am

    I love creating mixes for my classes… I put a lot of thought into them and my yogis always appreciate it. Music can inspire you & take you to another level if it’s the right music. My latest was for the last class I taught in my studio… literally my last class, so a lot of thought was put into the mix and it was dedicated to my students who have been with me since the beginning. http://c.itunes.apple.com/ca/imix/blissful-farewell/id487525402

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