clairezalla

On the surface, setting a contemplative Downward-Facing Dog pose to the tune of Shawty Lo’s “Dey Know” might seem like a contradiction.

But not at Alisa’s House of Salsa. By combining the serenity of yoga with the energy and popularity of trap music, Alisa’s owner Alisa Bowens hopes to encourage a new demographic to explore yoga.

Trap yoga is a combination of vinyasa-style yoga and trap music, a form of hip-hop originating in the southern United States and popularized by artists like 2 Chainz, Travis Scott, Shawty Lo, Cardi B and Drake. The new take on traditional yoga is intended to create an inclusive and encouraging environment for people of all experience levels, backgrounds and ethnicities. The class started in September and is held every Saturday.

Trap yoga was formulated by yogis who were “trying to find a way to engage more people of color and bring them to the mat,” said Thema Graves, a yoga instructor at Alisa’s House of Salsa. “Music brings people together and sometimes encourages people to do things that they wouldn’t normally do.”

Although yoga originated in India, its American incarnation is largely dominated by white people, women, the wealthy and the highly educated, according to the International Association of Yoga Therapists.

For Graves, that lack of diversity is the result of a vicious cycle of reduced exposure and representation.

“If you don’t see a person who looks like you leading the class, you may not feel like this is for you,” she said.

Bowens said she hopes the yoga class will draw people of different demographics, making for a more inclusive yoga experience. And the trap yoga class is “catching on,” she added.

Bindu Vahapalli, who has attended yoga classes since she was a child, said she thinks the trap yoga class is more “welcoming” to those of diverse backgrounds than other yoga classes.

“Every class that I’ve come to has been much more diverse than any of the other classes I’ve been to,” she said. “I think we’ve had certainly more people of color. Usually I tend to be the one person of color or maybe there’s one other person, and so that’s been really nice. It’s kind of opened it up to more people who typically wouldn’t go to yoga classes.”

Graves holds her trap yoga classes from 1-2 p.m. every Saturday at Alisa’s House of Salsa, located at 912 Whalley Avenue.

Claire Zalla | claire.zalla@yale.edu