I’m a casual yoga-goer at best. In fact, I could probably count the number of times I’ve taken a yoga class on one hand…two, tops. For the most part, to me, it’s always been a lot like working out or drinking green tea — sounds great in theory, but the execution is somewhat, shall we say…elusive.
Recently, however, I took a class at Y7 Studio’s Flatiron location; specifically, their “Hip-Hop Wednesday” vinyasa. That’s right — I got my yoga (and sweat) on to the dulcet tones of Biggie and Tupac, amid the soft glow of candlelight and heat lamps.
And since yoga is both a physical and mental practice, the class is said to help, “deepen the connection of mind and body” …so here’s what I learned:
Hip-Hop and Yoga Go Together
I’ll be honest: I was a little skeptical when I was first invited to go “flowin’ with the omies” (but dear god, do I love a pun). In my mind, yoga was always done to elevator music and water sounds, so I didn’t quite understand how “flowing to a soundtrack of Biggie vs. Tupac” was going to pan out.
I was pleasantly surprised to discover that it totally works. Y7 is a different kind of yoga, fusing heat, hip-hop, and candlelight into a more energized, yet no less peaceful, practice. I found the music’s “bump” a welcome companion, pushing me to dig deeper into the experience. Forget Enya – I’m listening to LL Cool J, instead.
I’m Not Flexible
And I don’t just mean in the “haha, most guys aren’t flexible” kind of way (this particular evening was exclusively a “Boyz Night” class). While I wasn’t under the illusion that I had the mobility to perform advanced yoga poses, this was embarrassing.
At one point, after being given three alternative poses that required decreasing levels of flexibility, I think the instructor realized I was a lost cause, and my forehead wasn’t going to get anywhere near my knee. Thanks for trying, Nick.
Yoga in the Dark is Liberating
While we’re on the subject of my being “yoga-ly challenged,” it’s worth noting that practicing yoga in a barely lit room really helped put me at ease with my utter lack of ability.
With candles providing just enough light to follow along with the instructor, it was easy to forget just how poorly I was doing in my attempts at Crow Pose. Once I stopped worrying about feeling self-conscious, I was able to immerse myself in the experience more fully. Think of it like flirting with someone at a bar…it’s all fun and games until they turn the lights on at last call; enjoy the dim lighting.
Maybe I Should Start Meditating
As an admitted skeptic, I’ve never fully bought in to the notion of meditating and the “spiritual” experience of yoga. And while a single yoga class hasn’t changed my mind, it certainly warmed me up (literally) to the idea. It’s like having peanut butter on a hamburger for the first time — you don’t really believe how good it is until you experience it firsthand.
I arrived to class feeling a bit stressed and anxious with a mental “to do” list a mile long — standard operating procedure for most people that live in NYC. I left feeling calmer and breathing deeper, and perhaps with a little more perspective on the tasks at hand. I woke up the next morning expecting to feel sore and exhausted, but to my surprise, felt rejuvenated and rested. Maybe I’ll give meditating to Missy Elliot a shot.
Hot Yoga Means Hot Yoga
Seriously! I’m from the South. I know what heat and humidity feel like. I know what it means to sweat. And as most New Yorkers can attest, there’s a special brand of swampy that only a subway station in August can create.
That being said, I honestly don’t remember the last time I’ve sweated so profusely — I felt like Kirstie Alley before a Weight Watchers weigh-in. Y7 says their approach to yoga “fuses heat, beat bumping hip-hop music and candlelight.” My sweat drenched towel and I respectfully contend that “heat” is an understatement. Then again, the phrases “We Flow Hard” and “A Tribe Called Sweat” are ubiquitously displayed throughout the studio. And while I did feel better for all my profuse sweating, in the end, a lukewarm bottle of Fiji Water never tasted so sweet.
So there you have it – a non-yogi’s take on one of NYC’s newest approaches to yoga. Not only did I make it out alive, but maybe even a little better off.