Jennifer Pastiloff's Yoga Karaoke!
Yoga is a quiet, meditative practice. You inhale; you exhale. You throw in a few oms.
That is, until you step into Jennifer Pastiloff's karaoke yoga class. Yes, it's exactly what it sounds like.
Pastiloff turns to the group of students in her Los Angeles studio—me, along with a bunch of other men and women in workout gear—and offers this thought as we begin our next set: "In realizing your dreams, the key thing is that . . . you don't stop believin'."
DJ Gina Mooring cues the music. The class erupts into cheers. Lyrics appear on two TV screens at the front of the room.
With our bodies positioned in Warrior I, a lunging, arms-in-the-air pose, we belt out the words, "Just a small town girl/Livin' in a lonely world/She took the midnight train goin' anywhere." We change positions as the song continues—and you know the words, so sing along at home!—"Just a city boy/born and raised in south Detroit/He took the midnight train goin' anywhere."
"Air guitar!" Pastiloff shouts at the chorus. "Dance party!"
Everyone bursts out of their positions and starts rocking out on pretend instruments. Pastiloff exclaims, "You guys are awesome!"
Pastiloff, who has taught yoga to celebrities in LA, started karaoke yoga late last year after she noticed that students were singing in her class. She wanted the hour-long sessions to be fun and silly, a time for people to let loose while working up a sweat.
"If you're looking for a class on alignment, go somewhere else," she says. "If you're not smiling at any point, something is wrong."
The class begins with a warmup, this time—with feeling!—to the classic "Stand By Me." Students stretch their arms, legs, shoulders and necks while singing in unison, "When the night has come/and the land is dark . . ." The medley continues with Tom Petty's "Free Fallin'" and Bon Jovi's "Livin' On a Prayer." Throughout, Pastiloff guides students through basic yoga poses such as downward dog and crescent. Songs vary from class to class; Mooring has thrown in popular hits by Michael Jackson, Adele and Elton John.
During the cooldown, "Let It Be" begins to play. The music is incredibly soothing, and after an hour of hard work, belting the words somehow helps you feel connected to your body and your surroundings. Your mind isn't allowed to drift onto other things, such as your parking meter or your to-do list. It's just you, centered.
In the end, everyone is sweating and happy. "That didn't feel like exercise," one student remarks.
Pastiloff nods. "That's the whole point."
This column appeared in print as "Yoga Plus Karaoke!"
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