Y7 Yoga Studio

Hip hop yoga - what?!

I tried out the much-acclaimed Y7 yoga studio in NYC this week. To my disappointment it was not what I expected. In theory, a dimly candle-lit class in an exposed brick flatiron loft blasting Wiz Khalifa should be super fun right ? Sure, until you add sun salutations and tree pose.

Contrary to the many fans at Y7, I found this to be the most nerve wracking yoga experience. I’d sooner do two back-to-back sessions of Bikram before attempting this. And it’s not because I couldn’t handle it. It’s because I do yoga for several reasons but most importantly: to find my calm in a weekly world of chaos.

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My still moment. My balance. Order. My zen.

All of these disappeared in that hour long class. Well, arguably not the “order”. The little felt dots spaced evenly helps attendees place their yoga mats down in symmetry (but this is likely so the class can cram as many participants as possible and maximize space - controlled chaos, if you will).

Classes are around $30. But for $45 you get unlimited for 2 weeks if you’re a first timer. So I optioned for that, assuming I’d love the class as much as I loved it in theory. I didn’t feel like bringing my Jade yoga mat to work so I needed to use theirs ($2). Because it’s hot yoga, I requested a no slip towel to put on top of it ($2). And then I needed a regular face towel (free, thank heavens). I didn’t see any water fountains, but I had brought my own bottle anyway. Presumably you’d have to cough up another $2 of you didn’t want to pass out from dehydration (which is a real thing people, when you do hot yoga). Before class had started I had already spent a whopping $49, a third of my monthly gym + triathlon club membership. This had better be worth it.

My colleague and I set up our mats closest to the brick wall and the door, hoping it would be the space with least heat.

The instructor led us through a warm up, which began with totally zen music. “Wait, Wednesday is hip hop yoga right?” I thought.

Then she turned up the music. Hip hop. Sun salutations. Chair pose, prayer pose, swan dive down, look up, all the way down again, step back to chattarunga (plank, upward dog), and into downward. All the while finding your beat to the music AND the instructor is talking to the class non stop over a rapper calling me the most obscene names in the dictionary.

Then into tree pose. Tree pose is all about stillness. You’re a moving tree on one leg, your branches are willowing effortlessly.

🎼"Damn it feels good to be a gangsta". 🎼

Warrior 2. You are strong, strong arms, stable legs, bring your arm back up over your head for peaceful warrior. Then up for prayer warrior.

🎼"I only FCK with girls from a pretty gang"🎼

How is this zen? How are these words, this profanity in any way appropriate for the yoga culture ?

🎼"That custom Breitling got me feeling some type of way. Me and my homies did your hoe, he feeling some type of way.“ 🎼

Don’t get me wrong. I am not against the music. It’s just that yoga is usually about empowerment, positivity, opposition to the material, letting go of the negative, restoration, and spirituality. It is rooted in the sacrifice of ego; teaching self knowledge and karmic wisdom. Of enlightenment.

I couldn’t even keep my balance in tree pose (usually not an issue for me at all) let alone honor my higher being. I could not find my stillness!

We are all guilty of using yoga for physical results. But let’s not forget the root of it. I always always make it a point in my practice to acknowledge a higher power and reflect on being a better person in my every day life. And the instructors I seek out and have practiced under do the same. They use Sanskrit, they honor the balance and the purpose. They retain the integrity of what they were taught and licensed to do.

I hope all my fellow yogis always do, too and I bow to the divine in you.

Namaste.