I found myself sashaying my asanas to ‘90s and early 2000s vintage pop and dance tracks (last time’s advertised theme). There were glow sticks on our wrists and our ever-moving bodies were illuminated by multicolored disco balls streaming light from the ceiling. Britney’s “Gimme More” was followed by the Backstreet Boys’ “Everybody” and Christina Aguilera’s infamous “Dirty.”
The pop confections were not my standard music of choice, but, in this setting, they made me smile and their infectious beats inspired me to give it that extra push. My fellow yoga dancers were experiencing the same thing.
This event takes place semi-regularly at The Yoga Room’s sister studio, Workout Factory, in Long Island City. It’s a collaboration between Dina Ivas, a former competitive gymnast and Sonic Yoga alum, and Don Victor Cotto, an occupational therapist and Yoga Room graduate. Ivas and Cotto tag-teamed teaching the class, which focused on exuberant vinyasa-flowing, triumphant warrior poses, and edge-busting ab work. Michael Jackson’s beautiful “Earth Song,” which I hadn’t heard in years, brought us to savasana, and we danced off to Vanilla Ice’s “Ice Ice Baby.”
“We came up with this idea because Victor and I both love music and movement,” said Ivas. “And what better way to spend a Friday night than coming out and doing something good
for your body, having some wine, and meeting new people? It’s all about balance. It’s an intimate space, so it doesn’t have to be a big group to feel like a party.”
“You’re stepping into a judgment-free zone,” says Cotto. “Great music, great people, and the
objective is to step onto the mat and have fun, without fear of what the pose looks like.”
An extra motivation was the promise of drinks and conversation afterwards at a bar a few feet from the dance floor. “The social time after the dance party enhances the sense of community,” noted Cotto. “This is a very inviting atmosphere. It’s a social environment, people take classes together and build rapport. There’s a kinship you develop, which is really beautiful. Dina and I have done this three times and it gets better and better.”
“We pick a theme for each event,” said Ivas. “I spend a lot of time going back to my roots, remembering what songs made me move. And I came upon these tracks I hadn’t listened to in years. I was just bopping around the city for the past week listening to NKOTB, Katy Perry—old pop and new. And Victor and I collaboratively came up with what works, what songs connect with us. It’s really organic.”
For example, Katy Perry’s signature anthem was the music bed for our abs sequence, Roar for Core! Dina grinned. “One of the misconceptions about yoga is that it’s so serious. It’s more about letting go. I feel like this is a safe space where you can listen to this sweet-as-candy music and no one will be judging you. Often you go to a class and you look around and go, ‘Oh, this person can do that pose,’ and it just becomes about everybody else. But here, it’s just you and the music and a collaborative happiness.”
The proof of the magic of the house party can be found in the testimonial of a student returning after a long absence. “She mentioned that it was her first class in 12 years,” says Victor. “And told me that she never experienced such a cool atmosphere, and an inviting way to jump back into the practice. She said the music, ambience, and mood altered her perspective. It's a more playful approach, and it has her excited about jumping into a regular practice.”
The next house party is on this Friday, April 1st. And no fooling, the theme is “Wham, Bam, Thank You Glam! A Tribute to Glam Rock.” So we’ll be getting our Bowie fix after all.
The Yoga House Party begins with class, from 8:30pm-9:30pm, followed by an after party over drinks in the same space. Admission is $40. Stay in tune at The Yoga Room.