When I teach yoga I like to incorporate a variety of music -- everything from kirtan to reggae. You may or may not be familiar with kirtan, which is a type of Indian devotional music in which the artist engages the audience in rhythmic mantra chanting, but as a yogi you should know these top five artists ranging from traditional kirtan to one of my favorite reggae artists. The chances are pretty good that you’ve encountered one of their amazing songs while meditating or going through a round of Surya Namaskara in your weekly yoga class. If you haven’t, I highly recommend checking the below artists out.
5 Musicians Every Yogi Should Know
Krishna Das - Often referred to as the “King of Kirtan” or “Yoga’s Rock Star”, Krishna Das’ chants are mesmerizing and moving. Krishna Das is originally from Long Island, NY but went to India 30 years ago and studied with Shri Neem Karoli Baba where he found kirtan. He now performs all over the world sharing his kirtan with yogis and music enthusiasts alike. His music incorporates eastern instruments, traditional Indian prayers or bhajans and chants, and he splashes in a bit of his rockier side giving his kirtan and sound all its own.
Must Listen To: Live On Earth (For a Limited Time)
Jai Uttal - At the forefront of the world music community, Jai Uttal blends a myriad of Eastern and Western sounds resulting in kirtan and bhajan that is rich with passion and joy. Jai Uttal draws mainly from the spiritual tradition of Bhakti Yoga, a devotional form of yoga, in which the union with the divine is attained through acts of worship, devotion, and service. His music is a perfect accompaniment to any yoga practice whether it be more meditative or a nice flow.
Dave Stringer - Yet another amazing and inspiring kirtan artist, Dave Stringer’s music incorporates kirtan with a groovy twist that lifts participants and listeners up and on to their feet. He blends traditional Indian and western instruments, a whole lotta soul, and his fascinating voice to create a sound that will gravitate you to your mat and into a flow.
Must Listen To: Mala
MC Yogi - Definitely not your typical kirtan but oh-so-wonderful in his own right. MC yogi blends hip-hop with kirtan and a whole variety of interesting beats, instruments, and sounds. All of his lyrics are yoga-inspired, telling stories of Indian mythology and spirituality. His music ranges from invigorating with tracks like “Bhakti Boombox” to relaxing with his shavasana dub “Shanti”.
Must Listen To: Elephant Power
Ziggy Marley - I absolutely love Ziggy Marley. His song “Love is My Religion” has been an instrumental part of my existence these past few years as it is a modern day mantra for today’s world. A yogi himself, Ziggy promotes a conscientious lifestyle through music, art, activism, and humanitarianism. Best known for his music, and of course for being the son of the one and only Bob Marley, Ziggy’s music is powerful, uplifting, and encourages us all to stand up for our rights in his own beautiful way.
Music may not be part of your yoga practice but I can vouch that it is most definitely worth trying out at least once. Sometimes it can be invigorating and result in this amazing connection of breath, flow, and sound and other times it can be soothing and invite you into a state of deep relaxation. Either way I highly recommend inviting the music of the above artists into your practice as they are the top five artists that all yogis should know.