making your playlist :: how to organize now (for bombass playlists later)
Updated: Jan 11, 2019
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This past weekend I took my four year old daughter, Maisey, over to Heart of the Village Yoga to enjoy the musical talent and bhatki buzz of Kirtan with Sean Johnson and the Wild Lotus Band.
If you haven't checked these guys out you are seriously (seriously) missing out. Last year I spent an immersive weekend with them as part of my 500-hour certification- and it was one of my very favorite training weekends of all time. During that weekend, I shared with the workshop participants how I organize my music to make playlist-ing easier. Seeing Sean and Gwendolyn this past weekend (plus my sister in law, thanks for keeping me honest Beck!) reminded me that several months ago I promised I would share my method (when I made all my playlists PUBLIC) and G.O.S.H. it's easy.
As teachers, we know how important it is for music to follow the class. Music lets us drop in and quiet the mind. It gives us a tempo to move and flow to. It elevates- internalizes- connects- grounds.
The pairing of yoga and music was instilled by my first teacher, Jennilee Toner, when I went through my first teacher training in Hot Warrior Yoga back in 2013. We spent a significant amount of time discussing the bell curve of yoga sequencing and how to warm the body up sufficiently, expertly care for all six basic movements of the spine, come to a peak posture or flow (the intense heart of the class), and ground everything back down for a blissful heart-exploding shavasana where you leave with ‘the yoga buzz.’ Heaven, yes?
When I first started teaching I spent hours putting together my playlists to follow the curve of my classes and began to experiment with how I could become more efficient. I started by making one huge playlist of every song I thought would be great for yoga- and as I listened to music and discovered new songs I would add them in. But when it came time to put a playlist together I was still spending a significant amount of time sifting through songs to find an order that worked with the bell curve of class. Bell curve. Bingo.
I started organizing my songs in to playlists based on WHERE I would play them during class. While the bell curve is often described in three parts (warm up, peak, cool down)—I have always considered five:
Opening- Centering, invocation and intention setting
Warm Up- Mini gentle flows including sun salutations
Peak Flow- Intense, yet, light hearted fun of the class
Wind Down- Address any additional counter postures necessary to neutralize the spine after peak, bring the energy level down and give students time to move to their own wisdom
Shavasana- Bliss out
During my training weekend last January, Sean described a similar five with the middle three being termed ‘beginning groove,’ ‘peak-groove,’ and ‘wind down’—which I love and have since adapted.
Organizing your songs for yoga practice is going to serve you best if you turn it in to habit.
So, let’s get started.
G.O.S.H. that's a good playlist.
Head in to whatever music program you use (I live for Spotify) and create a new playlist. Name it ‘Yoga All.’ Start by taking all of the music from any yoga playlists you currently have, and drag all the songs in there.
EXPERT TIP: As you hear music throughout your day that you think hey, this would be awesome for a yoga class, save it in that playlist. Let it sit at the bottom of the queue so it doesn’t get lost.
Create at least five playlists and title them something that reminds you of where in the bell curve they would be played. I have opening invocation; beginning groove; peak groove; wind down; and shavasana.
EXPERT TIP: In addition to my fab five, I also have the following playlists: Pre-Class Playlist, Ambient-Drone, Favorite Chants, and Instrumental Relaxation.
Go through your entire yoga playlist and sift through the songs sorting them in to one or more of the five playlists.
EXPERT TIP: It is okay to have your songs in more than one place. Really. Often I find that some songs, depending on the class, fit in more than one spot in class. For example: What the Moon Does by Ben Howard, and Never Let Me Go by Florence and the Machine are in both my beginning groove and peak groove playlists. Whereas Heart Sutra by Wah! I only have in my shavasana playlist. I really don’t play it any other time.
This process may take some time unless you’re starting fresh. It’s a doozie so give yourself the space (and your bleary eyes a break)!
Woo! So all your music is organized. Bravo and pat on the back! Now it is time to cultivate the habit of sorting in to those playlists from the moment you have that hey, this would be awesome for a yoga class thought. I promise that this becomes easier because you know that 99% of the time when you have this thought, you already know when you would play it. The best part about this is that new songs you add will be at the bottom of the list so you will always know where to go for new material.
Create. At this point, how to create the playlist is hopefully obvious. I would also recommend having some buffer songs on either end of the playlist, just in case. ;)
After you create your playlist, be sure to put how long it is in the title so you can easily know what playlists you have to choose from depending on class length. If you’re really gung ho you could also put class date, what the peak posture was, etc. in there.
If you’re looking for more playlist inspiration, head on over to my Spotify page and check it out. I have 50+ of my favorite playlists up there- use them, share them, make love to them, enjoy them.
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