Classes We Love: Black Light Hip-Hop Yoga

Downward dog meets Snoop Dogg at this innovative class from Back Bay Yoga Studio.

hip-hop-yogaBlack Light Hip-Hop Yoga. Photo by Jamie Ducharme.

It’s Friday night, the black lights are on, Jay-Z is blaring, and the room is getting progressively hotter and sweatier. No, it’s not the dance floor at Royale—it’s black light hip-hop yoga at Back Bay Yoga Studio.

Know before you go:

This yoga class is different than any class you’ve taken before. If you like the health benefits and movements of yoga but get a little tired of Enya playing on loop, this class is for you. Instructor Erica Bornstein calls the playlist “loud and explicit,” and she’s not kidding. Rihanna, Justin Timberlake, Fat Joe, and the aforementioned Jay-Z play as loud as the speakers allow, and the black lights give the class a fun, anything-goes vibe.

Students are encouraged to wear white or neon to enhance the black light effect, and the final product makes you feel like you’ve stepped into a rave. (A word to the wise: Black lights make any grime that may be lingering on your mat painfully visible, so learn from our mistakes and give that thing a much-needed bath before you go.)

Bornstein places emphasis on breath and focus, and the class ends with the traditional total relaxation pose, but this class is decidedly less zen and more wild than your run-of-the-mill vinyasa flow class. Bornstein is relaxed and occasionally cracks jokes—”I can’t remember the name of this pose, so I’m going to call it the ass-kicker,”—and while you probably won’t reach total nirvana, you are going to have a great time. The hour and a half class flies by through a combination of genuine fun and sensory overload.

One thing to keep in mind is that in addition to this class being hip hop yoga and black light yoga, it is also hot yoga. The room is heated to about 85 degrees, so you will be more sweaty than your average yoga class, but no where near the dizzying 100-degree plus heated rooms of Bikram yoga.

The class is open to all levels, and although the studio attracts some serious yogis—people can be seen executing perfect headstands—most poses can be modified to the point where a casual student can enjoy themselves. Plus, the black lights provide anonymity, so even the most reluctant of yogis can cut loose. Bornstein is there to correct form and offer suggestions, but the class is mainly about doing your own thing. Unlike some trendy yoga studios, there’s no feeling of judgment or exclusivity—it’s just about having fun, getting sweaty, and revving up for Friday night.

Black light hip-hop yoga is offered Friday nights from 6:30 p.m. to 8 p.m. $15 drop-in, Back Bay Yoga Studio, 364 Boylston St., 617-375-9642;