What's the hardest part about teaching yoga? Surely, you would think it's the public speaking, or the sequencing, or maybe the assisting and adjusting. But no. It's the playlist. Creating a new playlist for every class is ridiculously hard for me and inordinately time consuming. Sometimes it takes longer to put together a playlist than it does to design a class. There's something wrong with this picture.
I don't listen to music when I practice. In fact, I don't listen to much music at all and I am, for whatever reason, feeling some shame wrapped around that little truth. It might have something to do with the fact that this is a music town -- the live music capitol of the world. Music permeates identity here. I can say without exaggeration that half of the people I know are in a band. Austinites take their music very seriously, so I shouldn't be surprised that this enthusiasm carries over into the yoga community.
Some of the teachers I know put a good deal of emphasis on the music they play. They post their playlists on facebook. They announce them pre-class to the delighted squeals of adoring students. They take requests. I feel very far removed from all this. I get frustrated when putting together a yoga playlist because I'm conflicted about the use of music during practice. It's not that I don't see the value of music in a class setting: music can provide a nice buffer zone around the students, lending some privacy to the whimpers, groans, gutteral noises and gastrointestinal shifts that tend to accompany the practice. The right playlist can elevate the energy of the room or bring it down a notch when appropriate, but it also makes it difficult to hear the breath and serves as a convenient place for the mind to wander if focus falters. Music is great until it distracts from the moment.
But I'm pretty sure that no music is not an option. I just wish I could tweak a few winning playlists out of the mix, stick with those and never need to make another playlist again, but I don't think the students would go for that. So I'll keep mixing and rearranging, digging through the archives trying to organize a series of songs that will suit my purposes and engage the students without being distracting. It seems like such a daunting task.
Hey, yoga teachers! How do you handle the playlist situation? And students, what's your preference?