New teachers often want to know what kind of music is most supportive to the Yin Yoga practice, and while it depends on personal preferences, I can offer the following guidelines:
Select music that does not have words that can be understood by the practitioner. If you are teaching to an English speaking audience, avoiding English words helps the practitioner disengage a little more and simply experience without paying attention to the meaning. If you like vocal tracks, I suggest some form of chanting: Sanskrit or Gurmukhi mantras, Gregorian chants, Arabic or Farsi traditional music, Native American or First Nations songs, Tibetan monks. These are great places to start for music that relates to spiritual tradition and is intended to facilitate prayer, meditation, or contemplation.
Instrumental music that has a steady rhythm is nice – Western music played by guitar, flute, cello, harp, or gentle, melodic music from any tradition is lovely.
The pace of music should be around 70 beats per minute or fewer. You can use music search tools to locate music based on the speed. While I don’t know of any science or study that supports this claim, I find music that approximates my target heart rate to be particularly nice, and in the case of Yin, we’re seeking rest.
Live music can be really wonderful during Yin Yoga, but again, it must be calm and relaxing with gentle transitions. Drums, flutes, harps, and guitar have potential to be beautiful accompaniments.
Recorded music is wonderful because the teacher can predict when transitions will happen, time the class using the music, and cultivate a playlist of the appropriate mix. I suggest using an online source like Pandora or Spotify to listen for music to add to a Yin Yoga playlist, and then purchase the appropriate rights to use the songs you find.
Music is not a necessary element to the practice of Yin – many teachers offer class without music and may tell stories or simply allow silence to have a more significant role in the practice. It is a rare teacher who can speak thoughtfully throughout the practice without being disruptive, but I have encountered a few. Bernie Clark is one (if you are able to attend a practice of his, he is a robust storyteller who shares lots of wonderful bits of history), and I can think of two others I have experienced. The vast majority of teachers speak in a way that I find disruptive to the practice, and so please be sure that if you elect to speak instead of using music that you record yourself and invite other teachers to provide feedback about their experience.
The point of the music is the accentuate the practice – support people in releasing, relaxing, and practicing stillness.