Music for Yoga

I was tossing a bunch of music into a folder for a new yoga CD and realized a bunch of them were about journeying and coming home. I hadn’t really planned on a “theme” for this one but I like where it’s going, so to speak.  Here are a few I’m using:

Many The Miles – Sara Bareilles – I like playing covers in yoga class, people get familiar and potentially new in one shot.

Love and Happiness – Al Green

A Sorta Fairytale and 1000 Oceans – I had never really gotten into 1000 Oceans until I saw the video of the PS22 Chorus doing it, those kids are awesome.  I like the bit, “if that’s what it takes to sail you home.”

Northern Skies and The Day Before The Day – Dido

Home to You and Where No One Stands Alone – Peasall Sisters – just to switch it up a bit.

Make You Feel My Love – Adele

I Love, You Love – John Legend

Forgive Me – Missy Higgins – I’m crushing on Missy these days.  I love the line “home is anywhere you are too”.

Teach Me To Whisper – Liquid Mind – for Savasana

CBC Radio 2 has stopped playing classical music 24/7 because they realized their audience is going to start kicking off soon and playing classical for 5 people is simply not a good use of taxpayer dollars.  So now they play good stuff and I sometimes listen to it on the way to work. 

They’re always careful to tell you the performer, name of the song *and* the album it comes from – often before and after they play it.  They’re poster children for polite Canadians.  It’s also ad-free and there are no annoying you’ll-never-guess-what-I-imbibed-with-my-coffee Kenny, Tina and Ron-type morning show people….ewww…..

I don’t mean to hack on classical, but for me it’s just not the kind of music I want to listen to in the car.  It’s either subtle violins I can’t appreciate over the roar of my 6 cylinder or it’s in-my-face Gustav Holst designed to send me  into a telephone pole.  Thanks, I’ll save that genre for home.

Anyhoo, they played Sarah Harmer’s “Basement Apartment” this morning.  Yes, this is another fan-girl post, obviously I’m in a mood.  I love that song, and I’ve played it in yoga class too.  I thought, if I could write lyrics like that I would be a more happy and fulfilled person – I know, hard to imagine that’s possible.  But until then, I’m so glad we have Sarah:

Basement Apartment

You live out where the street ends
In a basement apartment with one of your friends
And the tap drips all night
Water torture in the sink
The furnace is burning
But it’s still cold i think

I can smell the bleach
That they use in the hall
But it can’t clean the dirt off of me
It’s seeping under the door
In across the floor
It’s starting to hurt

Everytime I breathe
Everytime I try to leave
Everytime I breathe

Now the toaster sticks
And the empties are piled
I haven’t been up the stairs in awhile now
I gotta wash the sheets on my bed
Gotta watch the things that go unsaid
God I wish we’d leave it at this

And every evening you open the door
You come down
There’s nothing like watching tv
all night underground
And no one is watching me slide
Below street level
Barely alive

Now we live out where the street ends
In a basement apartment just like our friends
We always said that we were different
But you know now that we weren’t
‘Cause there’s holes in all the bottles
And my lungs hurt

Sometimes I check my blog stats to see what Google searches bring people to my site.  The number 1 is always Wild Rose D-Tox just-about-anything because anyone crazy enough to embark on such a thing is desperately looking for info.  It amazes me that the Wild Rose folks don’t offer more in the way of resources.  There are a few “customer testimonials” on the site, some that include questions that they don’t even answer. 

And it’s not like the kit’s not selling.  My friend said every health food store in Halifax was sold out when she went looking two weeks ago.  I guess if they can be so successful without working hard on things like customer support, then hey, have at it.

So folks gather on places like my site to ask “can I drink coffee?” (yes, black, 2 cups max), “can i take the icky tasting drops with juice?” (yup whatever it takes. I shoot ‘em with water in a shot glass and pretend it’s tequila) and “wow i just had the scariest bowel movement ever” (now *that’s* worth the price you paid eh?).  And I respond by email.   

On that note, I confess that I have not done my fall detox yet. I’ve just had too many food-related trips and events going on and prefer to have two solid (read: boring) weeks to focus on eating brown rice ’til I burst.  I have a family visit coming up which will entail much eating of homemade ravioli, so I’ll detox at the end of November.  Stay tuned ‘toxers, I have a couple new recipes to share.

Anyhoo let’s drag this post back onto the rails.  The second reason people trip over my blog is “yoga music”.  So I feel it’s my blogger duty to throw in an updated list of music I’ve been using lately.  Here it goes in no particular order or playlist:

  • Rain & Soul Food – Leela James – she has such an awesome voice
  • 6 Underground – Sneaker Pimps – fun and uplifting
  • American Dream – Jakatta – also fun and uplifting
  • I Still Feel Soul Food – Martina Topley-Bird – I Still Feel is one of those tunes that I’ve played for a whole driving trip, bass and volume turned up.  And it works for Sun Salutations too, how ’bout that.  And Soul Food is a sexy beast of a song.
  • Nightswimming & Wonderwall – Acoustic Love Songs – yes the collection of songs is as cheesy as the album title, but REM’s acoustic version of Nightswimming is good and Ryan Adam’s version of Wonderwall is better than the Oasis boys’ ever. 
  • In Your Atmosphere – John Mayer – his lyrics can slay me.  He manages to fit a whole wack of emotional complexity into a few simple lines “I don’t think I want to go to LA anymore…..I’d die if I saw you, die if I didn’t see you there” (sigh)
  • The Look of Love – Shelby Lynne – she’s so awesome
  • Fields of Gold – Eva Cassidy – sometimes the cover is simply better than the original you know?  I’d never heard of Eva Cassidy, but caught this on Pandora and fell in love.  Lines like “will you stay with me, will you be my love” stand out more for me than they ever did with Sting’s version.  I used this one for Savasana on Tuesday.  I think it worked :-)




I guess i have a thing for playing R&B during my Power Yoga classes.   I cooked up another one.  It has a couple rough edges at the top so I won’t use for a newbie class but definitely a class of experienced yogis. 

  • Superwoman – Alicia Keys
  • Way Down – Steve Earle (for my fellow Wired fans)
  • Answer Me – Sharon Jones and the Dap Kings
  • Dirty Day – Divine Brown (not *that* one – the Canadian R&B singer with the awesome pipes)
  • Sweet the Sting – Tori Amos
  • Who’s Gonna Save My Soul – Gnarls Barkley
  • The Thing About Love – Alicia Keys
  • Breakfast in Bed & Just a Little Lovin’ – Shelby Lynne (I’m loving her Dusty Springfield album)
  • Rosie’s Lullaby – Nora Jones



I did a Jivamukti workshop last week and it was so cool to do a class where music is used well.  I don’t mean playing frenetic drumming on a tinny boombox until the teacher realizes it’s driving people crazy and turns it off, but really used to manage the energy of the class.

Lots of teachers, my own included, are against music or at least really cautious about it.  But my thing is, for people who *like* music, when it’s used well it only enhances what’s going on.  If the goal is to help people get in touch with their insides, music is simply one of the best ways to do it.

I learned that the Jiva folks are really into inversions, like they work up to 75 breaths in Shoulder Stand.  I lost track of my breaths but we held it really long.  The teacher wandered over to the music player and switched to some spoken word thing with a strong veggie/enviro-message and beat.  It was great and did I ever need it because at one point my legs started shaking, I could barely hold them up anymore.  And I thought – this is *gravity* I’m working against, why am I having a challenge with this?  I mean ok, we were going on to hour 3 of yoga and I’d run the day before but still – gravity?  So, yeah I appreciated the music.  And the fact that she let us cross our ankles.

She played Bob Dylan’s “Not Dark Yet” towards the end of the workshop and I’m not sure I’d ever heard it before, what a beautiful song. It motivated me to go through some music I’ve been collecting and create some new CD’s for my fall yoga classes.  I’ll post here with any juicy finds.

But back to inversions, she said that Jivas spend 5 minutes every class on Headstands.  I’ve avoided them in my Power Yoga classes because we only meet once a week and I figure there’s no way someone can build up the strength to avoid neck injury that way.  So I don’t do them.  But since the folks who’ve registered for the next session are physically active experienced yogis,  I think it’s time to lighten up. 

If strength is an issue they can use the time to work on that by walking their hips over their shoulders, creased at the hips with straight legs.  Or they can walk up a wall they’re facing so their legs are parallel to the floor, hips over shoulders.  Those who can hold their weight without compressing their neck can spend the time playing with their balance and getting into the pose. 

I really want to see where it goes.  Inversions may be good for us physically but there’s something about turning our world upside down that I’m convinced is pretty powerful.  Even when you have to cross your ankles.



So when your Deval Premal CDs get worn out and you’re looking for new yoga music that’s *different*, add of dash of these and mix well:

Revenge of the Number – Portishead – (Rebirth of Cool Phive) – You’re saying “Portishead??”, I know, but give it a listen.  It’s not for a beginners class of newbies, but for experienced yogis who want to tune out and just move through the poses, it works.

Jericho and Higher Ground - Weekend Players (Pursuit of Happiness) – nice slow groove including trumpety stuff.

You Wish - Nightmares on Wax (In a Space Outta Sound) – nice groove with a beat, good for Vinyasa yoga.  I also used the “The Sweetest” from this album for a Power Yoga class last night.  It’s got a bit of a slow dub feel to it and I wasn’t sure it would work until I saw some people wiggling their toes to the beat between Sun Salutes.  I guess it worked :-).

Somersault and Passion – Zero 7 (When It Falls) – lush vocal tunes.

Cryin’ Won’t Help You Now – Ben Harper – (Both Sides of The Gun) bluesy simple guitar/vocal tune.

Thinking of You and Not Too Late – Norah Jones – (Not Too Late) nothing beats songs of love and longing to stretch by….

Come Home To Me – Steve Earle (Washington Square Serenade) a more rootsy song of love and loving, you can’t have too many at the end of a yoga session.

Summerbreeze – Emiliana Torrini (Love in the Time of Science) – I love this tune for the first line “Might have been a while since you’ve been loved like you should be loved”.  Simple beautiful tune.


I got Zero 7’s latest, Simple Things and it is so awesome for yoga.  It’s good lush chill-out background music with enough beat that’s never too in your face.  It’s smooth without being schmaltzy.  I used almost all the album, there’s a mix of vocals so you don’t feel like it’s all the same stuff.  Here’s how I remixed it for my 85 minute yoga class:

  1. Destiny – sexy vocals and a nice groove for 5+ minute warm up
  2. Give it away – a good smooth beat for starting sun salutations and standing poses
  3. Out of town
  4. Simple Things
  5. Red Dust
  6. Likufanele
  7. Polaris
  8. In The Waiting Line – here’s where it starts to slow down for some nice easy stretching
  9. This World
  10. Spinning

And I finished it with 10 minutes of crystal bowl sounds I got from itunes for Savasana.

I’ve been working on an R&B CD for Power Yoga class – you know, some good groove tunes.  I’ve been getting tired of all that drumming in some of the other music I’ve been using.  I’ve had the urge for something more soulful.  Here are a few I’ve added that work well:

– “Til it happens to you” and “Like a Star” – Corinne Bailey Rae

– The karaoke version of “Sexual Healing” (the song has a great groove, but no one needs to hear those come-on lyrics during yoga) – Marvin Gaye

– “Come Home” – Angie Stone

– “I’ll fly away” – Kanye West

– “Flow” – Sade

I purchased all from iTunes, except Corinne Bailey Rae, I have on CD.


We all have songs that we could listen to over and over again. My current one is “Offering Chant”, the unplugged version from Jean-Philippe Rykiel and Lama Gyurme on Rain of Blessings. It’s simple and lovely and speaks to me.

I’ve been using it as a pre-Savasana tune, and then using more hummy tracks from these guys for the relaxation itself. It makes the room subtly vibrate.

I can really obsess about the music I play for yoga classes. I’ll get really pumped about a song, mix it into a CD and then as the class is happening *and* i’m talking through a pose think “gyawd what was I thinking, this soulful guitar sounds like some high school garage band is warming up next door” etc. etc.

My tastes often change too which is why I don’t suggest music more often but here’s one I’m keyed up about. Yoga Lounge by Chinmaya Dunster & Niladri Kumar. They use Indian instruments and influences and make some great sounds. And the best part is that the CD has a perfect groove. The songs are interesting and build really well without getting overwrought (I hate that). I used every tune for the CD I put together, which is too rare. The songs are all over 5:58 minutes too, which I think helps build a mood in class. My fave tune, which I’ve listened to alot is “Jhinjhoti “. It has a nice melody that just makes me happy. Check it out.

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