Allow me to begin with a disclaimer: I loathe the gym.
Sure, I eat kale regularly, but I hiss at Lululemon wearers. I start every day with a heaping bowl of skepticism and I plan on relaxing only after I'm dead. But recently, I was introduced to the health fad that's sweeping the blogosphere: yoga with live DJs. If the marathon sets in Miami weren't already enough of a workout, dance music fans found ways to integrate their love of music into 5k marathons, breakfast raves, and now, yoga. What ensued was not a shining moment of my own, but it was certainly one of many for Toronto's Deep Side Yoga.
Lauren Fogazzi and Nadia Rehman are the self-proclaimed 'house music heads' behind Deep Side Yoga (DSY). The friends turned business partners brought the series to Toronto's fervent dance music community with the help of Way of Acting (WOA), a Toronto-based nightlife and leisure brand. "Way of Acting was really the first in Toronto to immerse electronic music in other aspects of culture—food, arts, fashion, community events, and now health and wellness," says Rehman. "Partnering with them was perfect for both of us to expand."
The sensei responsible for my bumbling display is Fogazzi, who is the main instructor at DSY. She assures me that I came to the right class because the focus was on "sthira and sukham," or steadiness and ease. The classes are held at Way of Acting's offices on Queen Street. "We make sure to throw out all our pizza boxes to make space for the class," jokes Imaan Pirani, the WOA co-founder. He admits that he has yet to take a class. (Traitor.) At the front sits Pasha, the evenings guest DJ. The lights from his equipment illuminates the candle-lit room.
Fogazzi's composed articulation guides the class into a thirty minute meditation. She instructs us to "forget about whatever we have to do after this or what we did before it" and to focus on our breathing. But the accompanying music was what set the routine apart. Pasha's placid, ambient tracks slither in between Fogazzi's sermon and make relaxation obligatory.
"I've never done anything like this before, but I love that I can play left-field music for such a long period of time," says Pasha, who is one half of the Toronto duo Night Vision with Room 303. "I have a pretty big library of this kind of stuff, but normally it's only appropriate to play at the very beginning of a mix or set. It's cool that I can do a whole set of this music and in this environment."
As the music swells, we focus on different parts of our spiritual bodies. Each part has a name that ends in "aya" and sounds more like a tapas dish and less like a section of my quadriceps. Occasionally Fogazzi would come around and adjust our positions. It seemed like an encouraging, personal touch to the class' intimate setting. Only after my third adjustment, did I realize I was the only one being adjusted. I masked my sighs for deep breathing and kept on downward dogging.
"There are a lot of obvious, physically unhealthy things that tend to come hand-in-hand with going to nightclubs. We want to show that dance music can and does work with healthy activities," says Rehman.
The love affair between health and dance music is nothing new to New York City. At Verboten in Brooklyn, DJs George Faya and Tasha Blank spin on location weekly for Willkommen Deep House Yoga. In Chicago, you can find Techno Yoga at the Rooted Self Expression Center, where classes are taught beneath black lights and yes, the use of glow paint and sticks is encouraged. Canada is only just catching on. The leathery looking thing that teaches your kettle bell class at Good Life Fitness might play an accelerated mix of Tchami, but surely we can do better. Deep Side Yoga and Way of Acting is a very suitable start.
Each class concludes with complimentary vegetarian snacks and a small reward for my grieving abdomen.
This summer, Way of Acting and Deep Side Yoga want to bring their namaste's to festivals in Toronto. Classes will continue on April 15 and as each class fills up, more dates will be announced. Until then, my shoulder lats and I will be licking our wounds.
Rachael would like to nama-stay and chat, but she's got to get back to Twitter.