In a yoga class, setting up a vibe with lights, music, and space is such a key part of the experience.
It really takes you to a sacred place and I tend to get all “bejiggety” if my sound system is not working. Whenever I am teaching at a new place or subbing I make sure to spend awhile understanding how their music system works (I’m not technically inclined and tend to panic when the music won’t start). I seem to play the same 30 CDs all the time but I love picking up new ones (a few years from now this list will be very different). Even if you don’t practice yoga, these CDs will work well if you want a sacred vibe for meditation or a special ceremony. A few of them will work for cocktail parties, too.
Shamanic Dream by Anugama: When I play this in my classes, I almost always get a student come up and ask me what the CD is. It is hypnotic, ambient, and a bit tribal all at the same time but with a fairly even tone. I teach a lot of couples yoga classes and I usually play this at the end so people can drop into a very deep space when the lights are low. This will transport you.
SoundSleep for Babies: Another CD you won’t usually find in your top ten yoga music CDs. I don’t know if I would play this during the entire class but it works stunningly during savasna. It is ambient music with a heartbeat in the background. This doesn’t work well if there is background noise like a loud air conditioner in background, though. I also play this CD for 40 minutes at night when I have insomnia. This CD makes me feel like I am in the womb.
Prem and Celebrate Peace by Snatam Kaur: I discovered her when I was at Omega a few years ago. She was part of the Ecstatic Chant weekend. Don’t let her turban scare you, she does a few songs in English as well. She has a voice like an angel and you can feel her soul pouring into all of her chants. This is one of the CDs that my students ask me about the most in my yoga classes.
Down Temple Dub: Flames by Desert Dwellers: One of my students suggested this to me a few months ago. I tend to have a lot of CDs that are not just Sanskrit chants and ohm-ing. I like the chill, funky vibe and the tone is even enough to play in a class. A good one to play at cocktail hour as well.
The Best of Wah! by Wah!: The ! is not a typo. I discovered Wah! when I was working at the Chopra Center in San Diego a few years ago. We used to play her CDs in the store to give it a Chopra Center vibe. I’ve seen her play a few times and it always shocks me that she is not in bigger venues, as she usually leads a Kirtan (group chant) at a yoga studio. If Natalie Merchant and a chanting Indian guru had a baby, this is who they would produce.
Le Spa Sonique by Jens Gad: Don’t let the purple flowers scare you. This has a euro chill kind of vibe to it, sweet, sultry and sexy. I think I discovered this at Kripalu a few years ago. The beat can be a bit funky and might not work that well during savasana. This is a great CD to play for a cocktail hour as well.
The Essence and Love is Space by Deva Premal: I don’t think you can call yourself a yoga teacher unless you have at least 2 of her CDs. Deva’s voice is like an angel and her tunes are soulful, sensual, and penetrating. I get plenty of students that come up to me after class asking what the music is. Deva often tours with her husband, Miten, and I remember the first time I went to one of their concerts. They want their concerts to be more like a group of people getting together and singing. It’s very interactive and the way that they lead some of the mantras you’ll feel incredibly connected to the ether of the universe. My favorite song is in English though – “There is So Much Magnificence.”
Pilgrim Heart by Krishna Das: What Bruce Springsteen is to modern rock, Krishna Das is to the Kirtan scene. I saw him perform at Omega a few years ago and have been a fan ever since. His songs are mostly in Sanskrit which could turn off some of your students (or could turn the other ones on; everybody’s different). His CDs are good to play in class but attend one of his live shows and watch yogis jump and twirl around in delirium to his music.
What are your favorite CDs or music to play during yoga or meditation? Post your thoughts in the comments below!
Jasmine Kaloudis has a background in movement, bodywork and spiritual inquiry that lends itself to fostering an atmosphere of dynamic play, nurturing and growth. Jasmine has lived all over the globe and her multicultural perspective is beneficial with working with people from diverse backgrounds and cultures. Throughout her 15 year practice and teachings, Jasmine has experienced how yoga is a tool which allows us to experience our selves more fully and more richly. She specializes in working with yoga beginners, the stiff and inflexible. Learn more about Jasmine on her website, on Facebook, on Twitter, and on YouTube.