NYC’s latest yoga class is one part rave, one part vinyasa. SELF tests it out. (Photos: Kristin Tice Studeman)
The Cube, a glowing, giant inflatable tent situated on South Street Seaport, looks like it would be more at home resting on the Coachella polo grounds than New York City’s streets. Yet as I made my way inside it on Saturday night for a Sound Off Yoga class, I found a scene that was far more civilized than one might ever find in Indio—but just as cool.
In the front of the room on a makeshift stage, a DJ looked to be busy at work, but there was no music thumping from the speakers. On the floor in front of him, a group of 20 and 30-something ladies (and a few gentlemen) were limbering up on their yoga mats. Those who wore fluorescent athletic gear stood out, illuminated by the neon backlighting. It combined elements of several other trendy workout-slash-party events out there right now, like the hugely popular Daybreaker dance parties or black light yoga classes.
Nearly in unison, (except for the attendees who were still focused on getting a good selfie—I can’t blame them, the lighting was pretty chill), my classmates put on their noise-canceling, over-the-ear headphones and jumped into a seated, cross-legged position. I followed suit. Ahhh…there it was! I could hear Gina, our instructor, walking us through the opening vinyasa flow movements. And DJ Panic’s deep house, Miami poolside-style beats, layered with the sound of trickling water in the background, were pumped through my headset.
Here is where I should probably disclose that I generally don’t like yoga with music, I find it very distracting to my practice. Call me geriatric, but the absolute last thing I want when I am reaching the peak of my camel pose is the ill-timed sound of Taylor Swift’s “Welcome to New York” blaring through the room, you know? Perhaps it’s because of that one yoga class I took a few years back where the bass was so heavy, and the volume so high. Or, maybe it’s because my training started with Bikram, where the only sound might come from fellow classmates grunting or deep, Pranayama breathing. Needless to say, I approached the evening’s Sound Off Yoga class with some hesitation.
I was delightfully surprised by the experience as a whole—I think it might have even changed my firm stance on music accompanying yoga. Within minutes after I put on the headphones, my fellow yogis drifted from my consciousness and those usual distractions just melted away. I was in the zone. As I flowed through the motions to the beat, routine yoga moves suddenly felt like one fluid dance. As I shut my eyes, I wondered if I was still on a yoga mat, or on the dance floor? The lines seemed to blur as a felt a high—an exercise high.
I remembered I was indeed still in a yoga class when I heard the instructor describe an unfamiliar twisting move and had to look up to see her demonstrating it. I realized that I hadn’t looked at Gina once. That’s how far into the zone I was.
An hour after the class had started, the last “Namaste” had been uttered and the crowd started to collect their belongings. The buzz floating throughout the room seemed positive and enthusiastic. A few of the more folks stayed to get an Instagram-worthy shot before relinquishing their headphones. As we made our way outside, we were greeted by sharp, cold winter air—a reminder that we weren’t in LA or Miami, like it had felt for the past hour, anymore.
For more info on the next Sound Off Yoga session, visit soundoffexperience.com.
By Kristin Tice Studeman
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