Recommended CDs: Music, Spoken Word, & Guided Classes

Kirtan & Chanting:

These CDs are all feature traditional Sanskrit chants from India, some from Hindu traditions and others from Yoga traditions. There’s generally vocals and music, which ebbs and flows from huge triumphant moments to quieter periods.

Jai Uttal & Ben Leinbach – Music for Yoga and Other Joys
Really a nice CD, with more instrumental pieces than some of these others. Also, I love the title.

Jai Uttal – Nectar
Jai Uttal has a number of Kirtan albums out and I like this one a lot. He has so much passion and sincerity in his performance. The music and the passion reaches some amazing and exciting peaks, and then also becomes very quiet and reflective.

Krishna Das – Greatest Hits of the Kali Yuga
Krishna Das – Door of Faith
Krishna Das is another artist with a lot of albums out there, these are two of my favorites by him. He’s different than Jai Uttal… more consistent and straightforward. More pensive, less ecstatic.

Ravi Shankar – Chants of India
This is such a beautiful, beautiful album. A real classic. Shankar performs many of India’s traditional chants in the traditional manner. The liner notes also include transcriptions and translations.

On the Quiet Side:

These are more quiet CDs, when you just want something peaceful in the atmosphere with you.

The Eternal Om
El-Hadra – Mystic Dance
If I could only have one CD to listen to while doing yoga, I would have a very hard time choosing between these two. The Eternal Om features one hour of beautiful, melodic chanting of the sound “om.” Mystic Dance is harder to explain, but equally mesmerizing and enchanting.

Jai Ma: White Swan Yoga Masters Vol. 2 (Feminine Voices Sing of the Divine)
This a compilation CD with all female artists, singing mostly traditional chants from India, but in a modern manner. It’s really lovely and inspiring.

William Coulter & Barry Phillips – Simple Gifts
Santa Cruz musicians performing beautiful instrumental Shaker music. Quiet, relaxing, and peaceful.

Ravi Shankar – Vision of Peace
A great 2-CD set featuring Mr. Ravi Shankar’s outstanding sitar music.

Wah! – Savasana
Deva Premal – The Essence
Wah! & Deva Premal are both female vocalists who focus on performing yogic/Hindu chants in an ethereal, uber-peaceful manner. These are just two of their many albums, all of which are pretty similar.

On the Rockin’ Side:

Bhagavan Das – Now
I love this CD! Produced by Mike D of the Beastie Boys, it’s a seriously fun, and also seriously devotional collection of songs. Bhagavan Das combines traditional chants with some English lyrics and his songs are poignant, energizing, and profound. This CD is about an hour long, and finishes softly.

Shiva Rea – Yoga Rhythms
A compilation CD aimed at a one-hour yoga practice… starts gentle, rises up with more energy, and quiets down again for savasana. Very nice listening.

Bill Laswell – Hear No Evil
Bill Laswell is a producer behind many interesting albums, and this is one in which he also performs. Taking roots from both Indian ragas and trance music, it’s a very interesting & energetic musical hybrid. All instrumental.

Spoken Word:

Ram Dass – Meditations on the Gita
Ram Dass, with his amazing voice, reads passages from the Bhagavad Gita, with soft musical accompaniment.

Ram Dass and Amazing Grace – The Chord of Love
This is a beautiful CD, with Ram Dass reading poems from the Persian Sufi, Rumi. The words are inspiring, as is the deep sound of Dass’ voice with the gentle music that wafts along.

Reverend Martin Luther King Jr. – We Shall Overcome
Audio segments from some of Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.’s more well-regarded speeches. Very powerful, very thought-provoking, and very moving.

Marshall Rosenberg - Speaking Peace: Connecting with Others Through Non-Violent Communication
Rosenberg discusses his method of non-violent communication, in which one strives toward compassionate, honest, and effective communication. Many useful insights and exercises for helping to improve your communication skills.

Chakra: The Seven Centers
I love this CD! I think it’s officially out of print, but apparently can be ordered through the link above. Featuring various artists, it’s a verbal and musical dramatic journey through the seven chakras. Very enchanting, informative, and compelling. Totally unlike anything else.

Coleman Barks – What Was Said To The Rose (Rumi)
Featuring readings of some of Rumi’s beautiful and spiritually-nourishing poetry.

Richard Freeman – Yoga Matrix
This collection is AMAZING! Not cheap, but this 6-CD set is so outstanding, so informative, so inspiring … it’s absolutely in a class of its own. You can listen to it over and over and hear something new each time. A beautiful and breathtakingly well-understood discussion of many different aspects of yoga philosophy.

Guided Yoga Classes:

Anusara 101 with John Friend (2 CD set)
Anusara Yoga Essentials with John Friend (1 hour class)
John Friend is the creator of Anusara Yoga, a very interesting emerging style of yoga. Anusara emphasizes a spiritual connection to the body, and a sense of joy and wonder and self-acceptance. These CDs are very nice, and approachable for most folks. He also has some videos available on the website.

Jivamukti Yoga Classes
Many different classes are available, including: Basic Yoga Class, Beginner Vinyasa, Balancing, Class for Busy People – and more. Many of these come with DVD & CD – so you can watch or listen. Also, the CDs come with an accompanying photo guide – so you can follow along in case you need some visual reminders. Taught by either Sharon Gannon or David Life (the co-founders of Jivamukti Yoga), these classes are challenging, inspiring, and energizing.

Yoga Sanctuary with Shiva Rea
Shiva Rea is a great teacher based in Southern California, who has quite a few different musical and instruction CDs out (all available on her website). I love Yoga Sanctuary because it’s a 2-part CD set that allows you to create your own session (for example, choose Sun Salutations, Standing Poses, Forward Folds, and Savasana…), so you can tailor your practice to your physical needs and your time contraints. It comes with a very clear and useful photographic guide to each of the poses – so you can reference it if you’re not understanding the verbal instruction.

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Updated April 20, 2006