Music for Stress Release and Relaxation

Recently, my friend, Misty, asked me to give her a list of music I use in my yoga classes that would also be good for massage and deep relaxation.  Misty is a massage therapist at the Four Seasons Hotel/ Spa in Seattle.  (If you live in Seattle or are visiting and want a special treat, make an appointment with Misty.)  The music I have listed below is specifically mellow, instrumental, and deeply relaxing.

When I first started taking classes years ago, no one used music!  For the first five years of my yoga practice, I never heard music in the yoga classes I attended, even though I took from various instructors.  After 5 years of practicing yoga and taking yoga classes and workshops, I went to Nepal to study at an ashram for a month-long-intensive certification program.  Once again, my teacher never used music in the yoga sessions.  In fact he  told us that music is yet another distraction and he discouraged us from using it when teaching because in the yoga practice we are moving away from external distractions.  He taught us that the practice of Pratyahara is the inward journey, toward a vast peaceful interior, away from the external distractions of daily life.

It wasn’t until I came back to the states and started teaching that I was asked by students if I would ever consider using music in my classes.  At first I resisted and taught the classes sans musique.  However, at some point, it made sense to have music because at one location I found it masked the sound of the weight machines clanking alongside the grunts of  people lifting weights.  Music, I found, also masked the sound of the basketball games going on next to the yoga studio at the downtown YMCA.  It wasn’t long before I was hooked on having soft relaxing music playing while teaching.  The soothing music was distracting my class and me from other distractions!

I was once at a yoga workshop with Jivamukti from New York City and the instructor, Sharon, was playing Helter Skelter very loudly.  The floors were vibrating, my ears were ringing, my whole body felt irritated, and, all the while, we were encouraged to do a very challenging sweat-inducing sequence of poses.  Already, as good/powerful as that Beatles’ hit is, Helter Skelter is such a disturbing chaotic song, and in my humble opinion, totally inappropriate for and antithetical to yoga!  I vowed never to subject my classes to any music that could evoke such a reaction.  In fact, 90% of the music I use in classes is instrumental and calming.  Of course, some of the music I use in classes has lyrics, but always it is soothingly in the background of my students’ yoga practice.

Below is a list of music that is very relaxing, can be used for your yoga home practice, and used for massage as well.  Thank you, Misty, for asking me to give you some ideas for relaxing music.  It spurred me on to write this blog and put this list together for you and others to enjoy!

Music for Stress Release and Relaxation:

  • The Tao of Cello  by David Darling
  • Tao of Healing by Dean Evenson
  • Landscape by Coyote Oldman  (Native American flute)
  • Sound for Meditation by Deborat Mishra (meditative music from India)
  • I Will Not Be Sad in This World by Djivan Gasparyan and Vachagan Avakian
  • Forest Rain by Dean Evenson (excellent meditative music with soft water and sometimes soft bird sounds of the rain forest, flute)
  • Environment 2, River-Bells by Anugama
  • Flying by Garth Stevenson
  • Morning Star by Hovia Edwards (Native American flute)
  • Feather, Stone, and Light by R. Carlos Nakai, William Eaton & Will Clipman
  • Music for Airports by Brian Eno (Got to love this title! What a crack-up! Eno’s music is great for soft background relaxation)
  • Afterglow by Michael Hoppe/Martin Tillman/Tim Wheater (stringed instruments)
  • Anjali by Benjy Wertheimer
  • The Lightness of Being by Anugama
  • Bamboo Spirit by Peter Ross (Japanese shakuhachi flute)
  • Chateau Benares by  Sanjay Mishra
  • Colors of the Mind by Steve Gorn (East Indian flute)
  • Drala by Drala
  • Harp in Aquarius by Myrdhin (harp music-most of the music is beautifully calming though there are one or two pieces which are agitating and which I don’t include on my playlist)
  • Healing Waters by Dean Evenson (sounds of water, great for massage)
  • Himalayan Crossroads by Deborat Mishra/David Michael (traditional Indian)
  • Inside Canyon de Chelly by Paul Horn and R. Carlos Nakai (flute)
  • Inside Monument Valley by Paul Horn and R. Carlos Nakai (flute)
  • Island of Bows by R. Carlos Nakai (flute)
  • Jalan Jalan (Balinese gamelon music)
  • Native Harmony by Dan Gibson’s Solitudes
  • The Great Spiral by Michael Mandrell
  • Om Guitar by Stevin McNamara (a few of the songs are too fast tempo for hatha yoga, but these 4 long playing songs equaling 1.1 hrs are really perfect: Aubade, Searching The Inner Sky, May Fortune Smile, and Heartsong Celebration)
  • Oriental Sunrise by Riley Lee
  • Quiet Heart by Richard Warner
  • A Meeting by the River by Ry Cooder and V.M. Bhatt  (India classical music mixed with American blues)
  • Sensual Sensual by B-Tribe
  • Spiritual, Spiritual by B-Tribe
  • Shakuhachi Meditation Music By Stan Richardson (traditional Japanese flute for Zen Contemplation)
  • Snow Falling on Silence by Marina Raye  (basically anything by Marina Raye will immediately put you in a serene state of mind!)
  • Soul of the Esraj by Benjy Wertheimer
  • Sound Healing by Dean Evenson and Soundings Ensemble
  • Swara
  • Spirit Wind by Richard Warner

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3 Responses to “Music for Stress Release and Relaxation”

  1. Jennifer Says:

    Hi Fran,
    I came across your blog as I was doing a search for Misty. Apparently she has left 4 Seasons….my mom and I had the most wonderful massages with her last summer, and were hoping to visit her again, but as it turns out she has left. By any chance do you know where she is working now? Thank you so much!


    • frangallo Says:

      Hi Jennifer! So glad you found Misty through my blog.. you know others have, too! She is now working at Vida Spa 900 Lenora in the Pan Pacific hotel in Seattle. I will also pass your email address on to her so that you can reconnect with each other! Fran


  2. Jennifer Says:

    Thank you so much Fran!!!! You have made my day (and my upcoming vacation)!! I wish you many blessings, Jennifer.


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