Breathe in, breathe out, begin hip-hop pose

, Beacon Staff/strong

Reach toward the sky, take a deep breath in, release, and then — turn up the volume on “I Can” by Nas or maybe “Move Your Body” by Beyoncé.

This may not seem like a typical playlist for Vinyasa flow yoga, a type of yoga that focuses on breath-synchronized movements, but who knows — maybe it’ll take on the club scene as an alternative to bumping and grinding on the dance floor. Or just help you get pumped about being limber enough to touch your toes.

“The weird chanty music gets annoying because these people are yodeling at you,” said Giuliana Hazelwood, instructor of the hip-hop yoga class offered in the Emerson College Fitness Center. “It helps me get out of my mind and into my body.”

EmYoga, as Hazelwood refers to it, may not be an official organization at Emerson, but it has helped yoga gain a stronger presence on campus. The hip-hop class draws a full crowd and the room is often packed with yoga mats. A new Facebook page for the class and specific session times listed on a white board in the gym are all part of the publicity push yoga has gotten at Emerson.

Hazelwood said she found it easy to get her new class out of the common rooms of the Colonial building, which she used as a makeshift yoga studio last year, and into the spacious area allotted to her by the Fitness Center.

“I e-mailed the director, and they said they were looking for a yoga instructor,” Hazelwood said. “The biggest change is the space we have, and that it’s officially on the schedule.”

The classes last an hour, and students can refer to the EmYoga Facebook page for additional information. On the site, yogis can look up lists of songs played that day in class, get advice about what poses may help different pains in the body, or leave a comment just to say thank you.

Ariel Rosen, a writing, literature, and publishing major, says having the playlists on the page helps, and the music itself is enough to get motivated.

“I love when we do Beyoncé; I feel so empowered,” the junior said. “Also, we did ‘Moves Like Jagger.’ I loved that.”

With the mood set to an array of hip-hop jams, Hazelwood spreads white holiday lights along the front for added ambiance and has the class practice with the overhead lights off. Students face away from the mirror, which Rosen says allows for a judgment-free zone.

“It helps me go the distance and not worry about how crazy I look,” she said.

Practicing yoga has obvious physical benefits, and being able to say you can twist your body in weird ways can be a conversation starter. In addition to the obvious, Hazelwood hopes to provide students with a safe workout environment.

“I want people to form a yoga community,” Hazelwood said. “I want it to be the most non-threatening environment where you can explore what you can do with your body.”

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