Jamie Lugo Playlist
By Mary Dana Abbott
I admit, I have a total girl crush on Jamie Lugo. Originally from Cali, Jamie is a fantastic yoga teacher who has been teaching since 2009 and is currently at Yoga Vida and Yoga Shanti Tribeca. She also happens to play the best music in her classes. I even follow and look forward to her Discover Weekly playlist on Spotify—their curated list that is based on what you already listen too. Truth be told, I prefer it to my own, and when I need a new song for a playlist, I head to her Spotify for inspiration and am never disappointed.
Recently, I picked her brain on her process of creating her playlists, which are always the perfect mix of upbeat and chill, seamlessly matching the movement of her classes.
What is your relationship with music in general?
I would say I have an interesting relationship with music. It has never not been a huge part of my life. I love (good) music. But I am definitely not one of those people who has music playing all the time. I love silence too.
That being said, I grew up in a loud and musical household. Sunday mornings I would wake up to The Beatles, Janis Joplin, or Bob Dylan. And when I was a teenager, my punishment was to sit on the couch and listen to the lyrics of a song. The lyrics always had a teaching to offer.
Music and dancing were also at the center of every family party. My Dad’s side of the family is Puerto Rican, so I knew the difference between a salsa and a merengue before I could walk. I started dancing when I was 4 years old and continued dancing, competitively and professionally, until the age of 22. As a dancer, music is like water, food, and sunlight – necessary to survive.
Where do you find your music?
I use Shazam and the Discover Weekly playlist on Spotify to help me to find new artists. It helps me keep my playlists fresh and up to date. I like to use cover songs because they help us to get a fresh perspective on something we think we already know, much like our yoga practice does.
How do you decide what goes on your playlist?
When I make a playlist I make sure that I have a good balance and variety of music. I like to think of the playlist as a story with a beginning, middle and end, so that people leave feeling the arc of the playlist and the arc of the sequence. Instrumental songs are a must because lyrics can be distracting and can compete with the teacher’s voice. Music in a yoga class should enhance the experience, not compete with it. I like songs that are in other languages for the same reason; the lyrics are less familiar and therefore, less distracting.
What are your pet peeves, when it comes to playing music in yoga classes?
Playing Top 40 or New Age Music. In my opinion, Top 40 music can be disrespectful to this ancient practice. I also feel like New Age music can turn many people away to the practice.
Also, when a teacher “plays DJ” during class, picking songs as they go, waiting until the end of one song to play the next, or ending a song abruptly to play another. Remember your students are there for both your and their attention, so try to not let your music be too distracting.
Finally, what advice would you give a teacher when they are making a playlist for a yoga class?
My advice would be to think about what you would want to listen to while practicing. Try to include a good balance of genres so there is something for everybody. Remember that music is meant to enhance the student’s experience. Sometimes that means playing a chill song for your peak pose and sometimes it means turning the music off and letting there be room for silence. Also, try not to play a song just because you like it, and be willing to skip a song if it is not working. And listen to the whole playlist sometime before class and ask yourself, “Will this music allow me to deepen my practice?”