What's it really like to turn your zen yoga session into a strobe-light rave? One writer investigates.
As a former party girl turned health editor, I'll be the first to admit that my habits weren't always so healthy. (Like how I smoked for eight years—and finally quit.) I used to love going out—especially after moving to New York City—and was definitely known to hit up a few nightclubs on the weekend. Although I wasn't a raver, per se, I can attest (anecdotally, at least) to how the black-lit atmosphere heightens the overall sensory experience of a party.
By the time I reached 24, I was over the party scene and into the wellness world, where I've been figuratively partying ever since. I've run a marathon (and made 26.2 mistakes along the way), finally wrapped myself into sleeping eagle pose, and taken pretty much every kind of boutique fitness class you could think of.
Unquestionably, though, my most recent love is hot power vinyasa yoga. There's something incredibly empowering to me about being able to literally stretch my physical limits and push my body into positions and spaces it's never been in. And then, of course, there's the whole mental focus, which is truly next level. As a hyperactive, hyperbolic human being (really, though), there's nothing like a good hour of hot vinyasa to get recentered. I completely tune into the flows and forget about anything that's happened or could happen during the day or week, or how scary long my to-do list seems.
Then I heard about YogaSpark, a new studio located in NYC, which offers a blacklight yoga experience, and I knew I had to see what this was all about.
I asked Lauren Porat, the founder of YogaSpark, about the blacklight yoga class and her yoga philosophy. "Our motto is, if it isn't fun, we don't do it." Same Lauren, same. On that sentiment alone, I was sold. But I wasn't as certain about whether blacklight would actually change or enhance my sensory experience during yoga. A weekend rave or a bright-and-early Daybreaker workout party, sure, but yoga? How would a strobe light party fit into the mindful experience I fell in love with?
"There's something really magical about the combination of the heat, dark, and glowing lights all around you," says Porat. "You see by the light of your own body and other people's bodies moving in space. It almost puts you in a trance. It's especially effective in helping people let go of the world outside and focus on their practice."
The playlist was an odd combination of soft rock and top 40 with just a dash of emo—not at all what I'd expect from an experienced described as, essentially, a party in a yoga room. Since there were only about six people in the class, it felt a little empty, kind of like when you would get to the club or a party too early and you'd just stand around (or, I guess now, scroll around on your iPhone). But on that dreary Monday, I desperately needed a boost of positive vibes, so I gave it a chance.
Once I let go of my club-like expectations, I was pleasantly surprised by the workout. For one, I was really forced to focus on my balance. (My instructor explained that the dark space mixed with neon lights really hinders your balancing abilities—who knew?) So I had to be really mindful of the tricky transitions, like a series of High Lunge to Warrior III poses. Turns out, this also made me more present during class overall. It wasn't a party, exactly, but hey, it ended up being a damn good yoga class.