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18 Songs That Are Perfect for Cool Downs, Yoga Flows, or Stretching

When I started experiencing anxiety in middle school, my mom enrolled me in a pre-teen yoga class. I had been a devoted dancer leading up to that—taking classes twice a week since I was a toddler—but still, yoga felt awkward. My body, albeit young and limber, wasn’t familiar with the movements. And, frankly, I was not quite used to the idea of wearing a sports bra. If you’re reading any of this and thinking, “Hey, that sounds a lot like me,” great. The rest of this story, and the consequential playlist, are especially for you.  

I continued to do yoga on and off, starting a more dedicated practice in college. I quickly fell in love with this form of moving my body to music, and I’ve stuck with it ever since. It enables me to fully let go—to get out of my head and let the soundtrack replace my usual anxiety loop. As far as I’m concerned, my awkward movements no longer matter. On the mat I do an intimate dance with myself, to everything from Fiona Apple to Childish Gambino.

So I’m extremely excited to share a playlist with some of my all-time yoga faves. You can also listen to it when you’re stretching in the morning or before bed, at the end of your workout as you cool down, or, honestly, whenever you’re just looking for some laid-back vibes. These songs are chill, but not depressing. Some are old (hello, Velvet Underground) and some are new (no yoga playlist is complete without a little Solange). The playlist is organized in a very particular order—I’m partial to a soft, gentle opening, a groovier crescendo in the middle as your flow climaxes in intensity, and then a slow wind-down that leads you into savasana—but, of course, you can put it on shuffle or skip ahead if that’s more your speed. I also love the duality of mixing genres and decades in a yoga playlist. It’s an excellent reminder—much like the rest of a yoga practice—that life is full of ebbs and flows, and feeling good is sometimes just an exhale (and a good song) away. 

Full playlist: 

“Plus töt” by Alexandra Streliski“Sound & Color” by Alabama Shakes“Place To Be” by Nick Drake“Retrograde” by James Blake“Tessellate” by alt-J“No Diggity” by Chet Faker“Hard Place” by H.E.R.“Redbone” by Childish Gambino“Cranes in the Sky” by Solange“I Try” by Macy Gray“The Spot” by Your Smith“Texas Sun” by Khruangbin and Leon Bridges“Pale Blue Eyes” by The Velvet Underground“Mayla” by Edward Sharpe & The Magnetic Zeros“River” by Leon Bridges“Fade Into You” by Mazzy Star“Across the Universe” by Fiona Apple“Coast” by Participant

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