ó On the speakers, Future rapped about Molly, Percocet and
Hendrix, and on the floor, I concentrated on trying to coerce my
hips into something resembling a twerk.
a frat party or another ill-advised night barhopping on Capitol
Hill, but a trap-yoga class. Trap yoga takes the traditionally
tranquil and meditative practice and marries it with gritty trap
music, a genre of hip-hop defined by its use of the Roland
TR-808 drum machine (think: T.I. or Gucci Mane). It might seem
like an unusual pairing, but trap yoga is having something of a
Chicago yogi Asia Nichole Jones trademarked the term "trap
yoga" and, since then, practices and one-off events have
cropped up in San Francisco, Los Angeles, Milwaukee and other
instructor Abiola Akanni, 29, has been teaching her version of
trap yoga, dubbed Trap Vinyasa, for two years and practicing for
three. Akanni said she hadnít heard of others leading trap
yoga classes until after she began regularly offering Trap
I met Akanni at Bohemian Studios in Phinney Ridge for her Trap
Vinyasa class. (Sheís also an instructor at 8 Limbs Yoga.)
I took ó
and almost failed ó a power-yoga class in college, and beyond
that Iíve had little experience folding my body into a
pretzel, regulating my breathing and using my chicken arms to
support my body weight.
said her class embraces beginners. "Trap Vinyasa just
invites so much self-exploration," she said. "But it
meets you exactly where youíre at. It doesnít require you to
have yoga practice established yet."
trap yoga is credited with helping to break down barriers to the
practice, especially among communities of color. Brandon
Copeland, a Washington, D.C.-based yogi featured in a recent The
Fader magazine story, talked to me on the phone recently about
began his practice in part because he was concerned that
traditional studios werenít reaching enough people. "I
wanted to see young, black people doing yoga. And that wasnít
a thing as of a couple of years ago," he said. "There
wasnít really a lane that was carved out."
seemed to agree that yoga could do more to increase the number
of diverse students on mats. "Yoga practice can be really
intimidating," she said. People of color donít
"really feel encouraged. You donít feel encouraged to go
into those spaces."
particular class in Phinney Ridge didnít draw a super diverse
crowd, Akanni said thatís not usually the case.
typical class is probably, I want to say 80 percent POC, the
ones that we host bimonthly at Washington Hall," Akanni
I attended was part of her studio tour, she explained, and those
classes often cater to a studioís pre-existing clientele.
everyone was in place on their mats, Drakeís voice was
replaced by Akanniís booming and hypnotic commands. She
instructed us to grab a part of our bodies we dislike (see: the
aforementioned chicken arms) and concentrate our energies on it.
For Akanni, self-love is a vital part of Trap Vinyasa.
just a body positive experience in a world that shames us about
our bodies," Akanni said.
the relative silence of the class was punctured by a trap beat.
A series of traditional poses followed: Table top. Downward dog.
Warrior one. Warrior two.
came the twerking.
fear of looking like a kid with no rhythm and my limited range
of pelvic motion, it was a refreshing reprieve from the standard
self-seriousness of yoga.
out positive affirmations like "You go, girl!" or
"I see you, Will!" (Sage the Geminiís "Gas
Pedal" came on, and Iím always down to move to "Gas
Pedal"), Akanni also has a knack for dispelling your doubts
and making you feel like you, and your body, belong in her
And so I
moved my butt, arms and torso to the music with a lack of
self-consciousness I usually achieve only after three Long
Island Iced Teas in a dimly lit room.
find the booty shake liberating," Akanni said.
first, virginal twerk, the rest of the class became something
like an elaborately choreographed dance routine. As the class
bent into a forward fold, Akanni told us to shimmy through the
movement and, as we moved from a low plank to a downward dog,
she urged us to engage our hips ("Now bring it back, bring
it back, bring it back," Akanni cheered to the rhythm).
Akanni invited us to freestyle. Other times, I got caught up in
the verve of the class and found myself moving of my own accord
like, "Oh, did you want us to stop gyrating?"
By the end
of class, my cool-guy T-shirt was dripping with sweat.
loved it. It felt liberating," said Erin McIntire, 26. She
said she was drawn to Trap Vinyasa after hearing that the course
was taught by a black yogi.
feel like this is the kind of thing we need to see more
of," McIntire said.