Open minded as I may be, I’m still a person who believes everything has its place, and every place has things specific for it. For instance, basketball courts have players, Kardashians have appropriation, Congress has fools, and the gym has me. Simple. So when I first heard that someone had paired loud, boisterous, Trap music, with peaceful meditative yoga, my immediate reaction was one of eye rolling disdain. Some movies don’t need sequels, some songs don’t need remixes, and some things just don’t need to be combined.
Yoga is usually paired with slow flowing music. At some point during class, the music fades to the background and the calming flow of the moment takes precedence. I think this is largely due to the lilting quality of the music, which, personally speaking, I believe is one of the most important components to practicing yoga. It’s literally, a whole mood.
When I heard about Trap yoga, I couldn’t imagine a world where listening to music that minstrelizes black culture and genuflects to materialism could coexist with a practice that brings peace, love, and light. That’s like vanilla Oreos existing – they just shouldn’t.
Yoga is about stepping outside the ego or the Little Self, and growing in the spirit or the Big Self. It’s about service to others, and service to the Earth in an attempt to coexist with the higher vibrations of the Universe. Trap is all about the Little Self. It’s pure ego. “Look at what I have, what I can do. Doesn’t that make me better than you?” They’re exact opposites.
I was pretty solid in this belief, at least until I began doing some research on how Trap yoga began. All of my grandstanding in the name of Om ended, or at least kept quiet for the six hours I reflected on my findings, before I went to an actual class.
During my research, I discovered that yoga instructors began using Trap music out of a desire to include those who felt left out of the nouveau health-woke-wave…you know, those innovators who discovered vegan and yoga were the medicinal wave of the future, even though they’re a couple decades to a few centuries late respectively. I say this, being both a yoga instructor and vegan, but I’m pre-wave so I got rights. Still, it’s better to be late to the party than never arrive, and Trap yoga instructors aren’t wrong for wanting to be inclusive, to help those who feel yoga just isn’t for them find something recognizable in the practice and seek to draw them in.
I went to a class to experience for myself what everyone else was raving about. I have to admit, it was a lot of fun, even though the class – due to the negativity in the music – did not leave much space in my energy to enjoy the meditation aspect of yoga.
Regardless of it being fun, my initial assumption proved correct. Yoga and trap don’t mix. Like I said, it was fun being in a room full of women, shamelessly throwing it a circle and P popping in a handstand, before pushing back into downward facing dog, but it just didn’t melt into anything spiritual for me – not in the way a yoga class with slow flowing music does. What is to be gained from doing something that’s supposed to enlighten your spirit, but lacks the enlightenment? Plus, isn’t enlightenment gained through pushing through new experiences which may make you uncomfortable? Still, I felt a little stuck afterward though, trying to figure out whether using Trap to make the practice of yoga more appealing diverged too much from the spiritual intent of the practice.
Trap yoga instructors have made the point that representation is important and I agree. As a woman of color, I understand how important it is to see myself reflected in the areas of life I aspire to. Why should yoga be any different? There’s a part of me that feels yoga is appropriated by whiteness anyway – even the slow flowing music is mostly made by white musicians. To re-appropriate yoga into blackness should be welcomed in my spirit, but something feels wrong to me about using Trap music, and in true yoga form, I’m not going to fight the feeling. Yes, representation is important, but that should be a call for studios to use more black yoga instructors and not assume that black people will only be attracted to something ratchet.
This isn’t an admonishment on Trap music, though it may seem so. Trap music, like everything else has its place in my life. Like the music in yoga, Trap is a whole mood, but one I enjoy at the appropriate time, the club, and not at the studio.