At the apex of a parking structure, adorned in a jungle of flora, Angelenos bedecked in the finest workout attire unfurled their yoga mats. Though the concrete was unforgiving beneath the thin layer of rubber, people sat and chitter-chattered as the unmistakable sounds of deep house music pulsed quietly in the background.
“Practicing yoga and listening to deep house music was my go-to healing modality,” says Chicago based DJ and deep house yoga purveyor Alissa Jo. “Who am I to not share these two with the world? Even if other people are doing something similar, I have my own version to express.”
As everyone settled onto their mats, we were all given a pair of shiny, futuristic headphones that glowed a shade of blue as deep as the house that emanated from them. Already familiar with the silent disco trend, it came as no surprise when Alissa gracefully slathered my eardrums in beats silkier than Clark Gable’s bed sheets. What did come as a surprise, however — even though I should have been expecting it — was hearing the voice of our cyan-haired instructor, reverberating directly into my brain. Accustomed to standard yoga practices, hearing her voice transplanted straight into my ears felt very intimate, yet somehow isolating. Though I was connected to the music and instruction, I felt disconnected from those around me. (I think the experience could have been just as immersive without the headphones and the inordinate amount of ear sweat they generated).
Sweaty headphones aside, Alissa organized an event that attracted a flavorful assortment of people—there were Lululemon-donning yoga junkies, psychedelic festival-goers, still-dusty Burning Man devotees, heavily tattooed rockers wearing all black, fitness gurus, weirdos, beardos, urbanites, nature lovers, break-dancers turned yoga masters, the “I’ve been doing yoga since the sixties” OGs and the noobs who showed up with their fresh mats still wrapped in cardboard. Apparently if you combine yoga and deep house music, representatives from all of L.A.’s hippest and freakiest corners will congregate to celebrate the union.
Even though Alissa is based in Chicago, there was something so quintessentially L.A. about this event (as the description of its attendees indicates). As I twisted and contorted into my own, wobbly version of the bird of paradise pose, I peered up between the beams that were disguised by dangling plants. A hummingbird and a helicopter simultaneously fluttered into one eyeshot. My view never let me forget where I was — palm trees and the downtown skyline framed our velvety-voiced instructor, the towering buildings emblazoned by the sun in typical California fashion.
Looking around at the diverse crowd that surrounded me, there was nothing orthodox about this yoga class—and it wasn’t just because of the deep house music that was lighting up the neurons in my auditory cortex. The location, instead of a hardwood floored studio with overhead lighting, was on the top level of a parking structure with a small garden and patch of tufted grass tucked away in its corner. The class itself was also atypical, as after an exhausting combination of poses, an on-command dance party erupted where some patrons busted moves as natural as those you’d see at a nightclub while others awkwardly two-stepped until it was all over.
Though I love to dance, I was among the two-steppers.
“Yoga can be a spiritual experience and it can also be fun,” Alissa says about the event. “The same goes for music and the same goes for life. A happy life to me is a life full of meaning and playfulness; Deep house yoga embodies that.”
My one gripe (aside from the sweaty headphones and unforgiving concrete) is how the event was advertised as a “Rooftop Deep House Yoga x Brunch.” My expectation to wash down eggs Benedict with several mimosas as a reward for waking up early on a Sunday to partake in physical activity, was quickly dashed upon arrival at the parking lot. In reality, we were redirected after class to a food fair that was taking place down the road (at which I guzzled zero mimosas). Instead of all sitting together at a table and enjoying brunch as part of the $25 fee required to attend this event, we walked around in the blazing sun, instantly splitting up and eating our meals at different intervals while sitting on the sidewalk. Maybe if I had analyzed the flyer more closely, I could have deduced all this, but at a mere glance, I—along with my group of friends who came for a birthday celebration—misunderstood this advertising snafu. My lesson to start reading beyond the event headline has been learned.
Even sans brunch, Alissa Jo’s Deep House Yoga was a sensory delight. Making rounds in the festival circuit, with her event’s most recent jaunt taking place at Global Eclipse Gathering in Oregon, the music and ethos align with the ever-growing transformational festival community of which I am a member. Her tunes added an undulating cadence to the already rhythmic flow of vinyasa yoga and the thumping hum of helicopters fading in and out was oddly hypnotic. Though I’ve always considered myself a countryside kind of girl, I felt proud to be an Angeleno that day, surrounded by friends and sunshine while doing yoga in a parking lot to deep house music with hummingbirds and helicopters buzzing up above. It doesn’t get much more L.A. than that.
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"Connection is why we're here. We're hardwired to connect with others; it's what gives purpose and meaning to our lives…" -@brenebrown ___ Grateful for another fun adventure with these awesome ladies, doing roof top deep house yoga for the beautiful @jamieo_duh birthday. 💖