I love a good Krishna Das song, but some vinyasas call for a different vibe. If you read my first post on songs for your yoga playlist, you know that I like to mix it up a bit in my yoga tunes. These days, I’m loving the soulful vibes, velvety harmonies, and rumbling bass in my favorite R&B songs. Here a few favorites I’ve been flowing to recently — you can find them all on Apple Music.
“Rise” by Solange
First of all, Solange’s latest album is magic. In my personal practice, Solange’s new songs have been making frequent appearances (see: “Weary”, “Cranes in the Sky”, and “Don’t Touch My Hair”). While teaching, I especially love the soothing overlap of harmonic voices in “Rise.” With lyrics advising the listener “Fall in your ways so you can wake up and rise'” “Rise” fits perfectly during savasana or in those delicious moments right after.
“Pink + White” by Frank Ocean
Frank Ocean’s voice is as smooth as silk and lush as velvet — I just love including his songs in my practice. This song has a lilting melody that reminds me of a restful, carefree walk. It’s the opening lyrics, however that speak to me the most: “That’s the way every day goes/Every time we have no control/If the sky is pink and white/If the ground is black and yellow.” Learning to let go of the need to control has been a constant part of my journey as a yogi, and this song artfully reminds me to release.
“Good Man” by Ralphael Saadiq
I first heard “Good Man” on the Luke Cage Netflix series and was intrigued. I’ve been a fan of Saadiq since his Tony! Toni! Tone! days, but had missed this song, which was released in 2010. It’s a throwback to old school soul with lyrics about a man insisting that he’s a good person despite having some flaws. Aren’t we all?
“Holding it Back” by Bilal (featuring Kimbra)
You can count on Bilal for mellow tunes that perfectly complement a vinyasa flow. This song’s tripping beat and sultry harmonies make it a constant on my playlist. Plus, the song features Kimbra (of “Somebody That I Used to Know” fame), whose a vinyasa-worthy chanteuse in her own right.
“Don’t Let Me Down” by Amel Larrieux
Amel Larrieux is a favorite of mine, and this song seems to speak to the pressures many people, especially women, feel. Some of the lyrics include: “Wish I had someone whom I could lean/Cause everybody’s always counting on me/With my hands held real tight/Always ready to fight/For the few pieces of joy I have now.” But the song is hopeful, with Larrieux cautiously, optimistically allowing herself to trust and love: “You have turned on a light/And I’ve lost my sight/But my heart still remembers the sound/Of a dream of a love one day found…So don’t let me down.” Because of its pared-down instrumentation, intimate vocals, and meaningful lyrics, this is a song I like to save for long holds in the quieter moments of class.