Playing Music During Your Yoga Practice: Thoughts by a Yoga Instructor

Playing Music During Your Yoga Practice: Thoughts by a Yoga Instructor

 Does music make a big difference in your yoga practice? If so, how? Clifton Yeo from Freedom Yoga dives deeper into this topic, and shares a few playlists you can use for your own practice! Read on.

about my experience with music and yoga

Amongst the many things I’m grateful for this year is the unique position being a teacher places me in. It’s something I didn’t expect when I first started out — I get to shape the experience of every single student in every class I teach. For 60 minutes, I get to take them into a different mental space, I do it with the help of music.

As a rookie teacher, it was a slight struggle balancing interaction, safety and ensuring that the sequences ran smoothly. But over time, cushioned by the confidence that comes with experience, I started exploring and adding music into the mix.

what i've discovered about the presence of music in yoga classes

I wanted to play songs that would be nice to flow along for a particular sequence of poses; use songs to psyche my students up as they worked through a dreaded core segment; and ease them into relaxation.

Building playlists for my class felt like my own little secret - getting to colour the mood with my favourite songs of the moment; and riding a high when that perfect song rolls in just in time for that specific part of the class.

I was having so much fun! I also started realising that more often than not, students would come up to me and give feedback on certain songs that struck a chord with them during their practice.

Building playlists for my class felt like my own little secret - getting to colour the mood with my favourite songs of the moment; and riding a high when that perfect song rolls in just in time for that specific part of the class.

music plays a key role in the fulfilment of teaching yoga 

Witnessing students lose themselves in the moment with my favourite songs—that’s gold. Sometimes just for fun, I’ll play songs around a specific occasion or themes.

For example, for the Star Wars fans, I was so excited I got to teach on May the 4th. I played an entire hour of Star Wars LowFi Hip-hop beats for my Vinyasa class. I remember getting goosebumps when This is the Way echoed in the background, as we deep-inhaled and pushed into a Cobra pose (what a nerd!).

Till then, I’ll continue taking the simple joys of curating songs (alongside pose sequences) for my students—letting music carry them through, and for an hour, they can be present in themselves, for themselves.

Witnessing students lose themselves in the moment with my favourite songs—that’s gold.

Looking back on your own yoga journey, If music is also a big part of your life (or if you’re simply trying to spice up your routine and get back into the flow of things), why not try to build a playlist of your favourite songs to practice along with?

To kickstart your yoga-playlist-building effort, here are 5 pose/song-pairings that I would love to share with you!

Pose #1: Chaturanga 

Song: “Bulls on Parade” by Rage Against the Machine 

Fire up your core and build upper body strength alongside a rocking soundtrack that will keep your heart rate going.

1. Start in High Plank, core engaged, and body straight

2. Inhale to shift your weight forward

3. Exhale bend your elbows, squeeze them towards your centre line, and lower your body in one straight line

4. Hold for 3 counts with your arms in 90 degrees

5. Bonus points: headbang along to the song!

Playing Music During Your Yoga Practice: Thoughts by a Yoga Instructor
Playing Music During Your Yoga Practice: Thoughts by a Yoga Instructor

Pose #2: Fallen Triangle 

Song: “Good Mistake” by Mr Little Jeans 

Strengthen your core, arms, and glutes, while opening up your hips, hamstrings and heart to some feel-good beats.

1. Start in Downward Dog

2. Inhale to lift your right leg up

3. Exhale to bend your right leg, and send your right knee towards your left elbow. Squeeze and twist

4. Extend your right leg out to the left side; plant the inside of your left foot completely onto the mat

5. Inhale lift your left arm up to the sky; push your right hand strongly into the ground

6. Bonus points: shift your hips back towards the right, squeeze your core and lift your right foot off the floor. Pulse 10 times to the beat of the song.

7. Return to Downward Dog and repeat on other side

Pose #3: Twisted Monkey 

Song: “North” by Clairo

A satisfying stretch for your hip flexors and spine, accompanied with Clairo’s soothing vocals.

1. Start in Downward Dog

2. Step your right foot forward into low lunge, with left knee grounded 

3. Bend your left knee and squeeze your left heel to your bum

4. Inhale to extend spine, and exhale to twist your torso to the right. Sweep right hand behind to grab your left foot from the outer edge

5. Pull left foot towards your bum; if needed, shift your hips back more so that left foot can touch your bum

6. Push into left hand; lean chest forward and open chest to the right to deepen stretch on left thigh

7. Bonus points: deepen the pose by coming down into your left forearm 8. Return to Downward Dog and repeat on other side

Playing Music During Your Yoga Practice: Thoughts by a Yoga Instructor
Playing Music During Your Yoga Practice: Thoughts by a Yoga Instructor

Pose #4: Wild Thing 

Song: “Stardew” by Purity Ring 

Strengthen your arms and shoulders while opening your entire front body with the celestial sounds of Purity Ring.

1. Start in Downward Dog

2. Inhale to lift your right leg up

3. Bend your right leg and open through your hips to the right side

4. Lean more weight towards your left side

5. Turn left toes towards the left side of the mat and spin onto the outer edge of your left foot

6. Keep your right leg bent, hips lifted high, and lean more weight to the left until your right leg touches down onto the floor on the left side of your mat

7. Squeeze your left leg straight, and keep lifting through your chest and hips, reaching your right hand towards the front

8. Push back into Downward Dog, and repeat on other side

Pose #5: Standing Flamingo 

Song: “HIP” by MAMAMOO 

Bop along this K-pop banger while opening your hips and shoulders, and balancing in this advanced standing pose

1. Start in Malasana (yogi squat pose) 

2. Come into a full bind 
a. Fold your right arm behind your back, with right palm resting on the
outside of your left hips,
b. Internally rotate your left shoulder, leaning forward, and sweep your left arm across your knee; with left hands to catch your right hand 

3. Keeping the bind, shift more weight to your right foot in your squat 

4. On your next inhale, push strongly into your right foot to stand up balancing on your right leg 

5. Straighten your right leg as much as you can, and lift your chest up to stand tall 6. Come back down into Malasana, and repeat on the other side.

Playing Music During Your Yoga Practice: Thoughts by a Yoga Instructor

Final Pose: SHAVASANA

Song: "Nocturne in E Flat Major (Op. 9 No. 2)" by Chopin

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