When choosing music to do yoga to, what do you choose? The bigger names in Hindi ceremonial music are Krishna Das, Jai Uttal, Dave Stringer. But Ziggy Marley and MC Yogi are also tunes that can be used for Yoga, a.k.a more contemporary, pop music options. Other options are Florence and the Machine, Coldplay, Kanye West, and Beck. Rap music and new/contemporary R&B music are great choices, too. According to Yoga instructor Michele Bickley, her favorite songs to practice Yoga to are all pop songs, including “Love Is My Religion” by Ziggy Marley and “A Change Is Gonna Come” by Sam Cooke. It all depends on what works for you, what resonates with your spirit.
It doesn’t have to be traditional “oms” and “ahhs,” nor ancient mantras in another language. When you hear the music in your soul, the music can be your mantra, the thing that connects to your spirit, the One, the Source. There’s such a thing as Yoga sound meditation, which allows practitioners to hear sounds as they hear them, but your favorite type of music could be your sound of choice. Both streaming services Pandora and iHeartRadio offer yoga stations. You can also use Youtube in your smartphone earphones to play yoga music, or any music you like. As long as you have good vibrations, a positive, clear mind, and a grounded body, your yoga session should be successful.
Sometimes, music is used during Yoga classes for focus and concentration. Traditionally, yoga music is ambient, soothing Hindu devotional music by Krishna Das or Bhagavan Das. But some yoga instructors are now incorporating popular music into their classes. Take Bay Area-based Bhakti yoga teacher, for instance; he now uses everything from Beck to the Black Eyed Peas during his “Bhakti Urban Flow” classes. The “urban” part is what’s interesting. Can a genre of music labeled “Urban,” like rap music and contemporary new R&B music also be used in yoga classes? Wells seems to thinks so.
“The urban part is key,” Wells says. “It demonstrates a city vibe, what’s it like to live in a city: intense, frenetic. I bring music to match that pace, to stay ahead of it. The class comes to a crescendo that brings us face to face with who we are.” Wells bristles at the notion of an authority judging some pieces of music as “spiritual” or “sacred,” and others as profane. “It pisses me off a bit,” Wells says. “It’s so personal.”
Wells recalled a time when he played a CD handed to him moments earlier by a well-meaning student; according to Wells, it was sugary sweet. “I couldn’t trip across the room fast enough to yank it out,” Wells says. “It was just wrong. It was the sweetest song you ever heard, but I got sugar poisoning.”
So when practicing yoga, don’t completely throw your impulse to press play on your blazing rap music and new R&B music playlist, the one you put on when you’re on the elliptical. All that matters is how your spirit resonates with the music.
What music makes you happy, grounded, and powerful? That’s the type of music you should use!