Musical anxiety and the Beatles

I thought putting together playlists for my classes would be fun. I love music and I was really excited to play interesting music that goes beyond yoga standards like Deva Premal and Krishna Das. I am always inspired when teachers play something I truly like. Then I started to cull choices from the 4,600 songs on my iTunes and began to realize I had a problem: my taste tends toward peppy music with really depressing lyrics. I didn't have a lot that would work in class. I couldn't very well play music where breakups or drugs was the theme. But I cobbled together a couple of lists that I thought were semi-reasonable, with good, driving tempos and non-offensive themes -- Arcade Fire, Rilo Kiley and Camera Obscura all have made it on.

But after class Saturday, my teacher mentioned during a feedback session that he didn't understand my use of music. There was Nicole and the class doing their thing, and then there was the music. He felt like he was at the Showbox, not in a yoga class. In case you were wondering, that was not the goal.

Passion Pit at the Moore, not the Showbox. You get the point.

Music should either aid the flow of the class, building to a power flow (which is more appropriate for an advanced class) or be atmospheric, especially with intro classes like my Saturday class, he said. What I like won't necessarily work for yoga. Practice to the songs, and see if they work for me.

I had sort of sensed the disconnect in class, but had not figured out a solution. Some friends protested his feedback and said they prefer good music in class like the bands named above. But I think there's value to intentional music. Some students might ignore it, but it might bother others. I know I get very judge-y in class about music. I used to always think "Here Comes the Sun" was a cheesy song to play, but then my friend Kip said what better song to start off the day? Now I get why Yoga Journal prints teachers' music playlists.

I'm back to constructing my own. The Beatles are definitely making a comeback. Sigur Ros is making a case for the atmospheric days, and I'm pretty sure "Takk" will be featured in tomorrow's class now that I have trashed my old lists. Do you have favorite yoga class songs? I'd love any and all suggestions, so comment away.


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