When I began teaching yoga in 2004, I knew that my playlists were as important a component as the postures and transitions. As with the actual movement, I used mythologist Joseph Campbell’s “Four Stages of Mythology” as a foundation for sequencing music. Campbell recognized that mythological stories from around the world used the same storytelling arc regardless of time and culture. And these four stages exploit our brain’s love of stories, even serving as the narrative for most Hollywood films today. They are:
2. The Journey
3. Return Home
The hero of mythological stories goes through a set sequence: preparing for the adventure; the adventure, or journey, itself; returning home after the adventure is over; integrating the knowledge learned on the journey in a way that benefits his or her culture. In yoga, this is paralleled in the warm-up, the flow, the cool-down, and final rest and meditation. While this formula specifically suits a yoga practice, it works well with most forms of fitness, as every class needs these components in its own flow or narrative.
In my article Energy Tune-up in 24Life’s latest issue, I focused on motivational music. Below is a playlist I’d use in a high-intensity interval training class. While more upbeat than what I’d use in a yoga class, it follows a similar arc in terms of beat progression and intensity. This is how I’d sequence a VIPR class or other format that I teach, honoring Campbell’s observations in regards to the narrative we tell ourselves through movement and sound.