Hip-hop yoga with a beat hits North Philly

Warrior and downward-facing dog poses sync perfectly with the beats of Tupac Shakur at Diamond Hot Yoga, a North Philly studio in the shadow of Temple’s campus.

They hold a vinyasa class on Sunday afternoons, set to the likes of Rakim, Jay-Z and Lauryn Hill. The instructor, Jazmyn Burton, also plays newer folks, like Drake, and even takes requests.

Hip-hop yoga is just one piece of Diamond Hot Yoga’s outside-the-box programming. Once a month, for example, they throw Rock Ya Chakra, a Bikram class with a rock soundtrack that ends with complimentary PBRs.

At the end of the summer, they’ll be hosting two body-positive yoga workshops. The hip-hop yoga class has run the longest out of the unusual workshops; the class has been going on for about six months.

“I didn’t want to disrespect the culture of yoga with the music, but I find that there are a lot of parables and spiritual messages in hip-hop, even some of the grimiest hip hop,” Burton said. “I feel like there’s an undertone of positivity in a lot of our music that does match with the spiritual lineage of yoga.”

That might be hard for yogis to swallow, but warming up against Kendrick Lamar’s “Alright” quelled any doubts I had when I tried a hip-hop class.

The track isn’t a flowery, super mellow number; the beat is a driving one, and the message is deeply encouraging. Burton’s classes tap into yoga’s vibes and rhythms. She’s dubbed it “Hustle and Flow.”

Diamond Hot Yoga owner Jen Coluzzi said the studio’s programming prods people to think a little differently about certain yoga traditions.

“Torture chamber, kill yourself – these are things that everybody hears [about Bikram],” she said. “But it’s fun, and it’s fun if you take away that whole [attitude]: you’re not coming here to suffer, you’re coming here to do something for yourself.”

This past Sunday, the studio replaced their normal hip-hop class with a hip-hop mala, an event to commemorate the summer solstice through 108 sequences with meditation sessions commingled throughout. The repeated sequences were sun salutations, a cycle of poses that trace back to honoring the sun god.

Traditionally, Burton explained to the class, yogis throw stones to help with the counting, but we would use pennies. The number 108 is sacred in Hinduism, Buddhism and yoga culture. (Diamond Hot Yoga is located in Suite 108.)

It wasn’t as exhausting as it might sound. Doing it to “Drop It Low” though? That was as cool as you might imagine.