Hot Yoga Groove

Posted: January 16, 2012 in Playlists, Yoga

Today (Saturday) was the kind of day you’d rather be inside sitting by the fireplace with a cup of hot chocolate, well, providing you’re legitimately sane anyway.  Me?  Oh, hell no!  Apparently I am the kind of guy that would prefer to strap on a pair of YakTrax , don the Sonclite mittens, sync up a pumping playlist on my iPod and head out for a long ass run (click to see stats).  Clearly, I am not sane…not even close.

Yup, it was cold one…damn cold.  So cold that I had frostbite across my chest, the sweaty in my toque had frozen it my head and my penis had practically retracted itself completely into my inguinal canal.  Yeah, believe me, that’s more than a bit unsettling when you undress afterwards, let me tell you.  But I did accomplish my 21.1k  goal in the end though despite these challenges…well, just shy of it actually, but that was just a poor planning issue on my part really.  Regardless, there was still a whole lot of “think happy thoughts…think happy thoughts…”  going through my mind today, particularly after the first 10-12k or so.

So what did I think about to keep myself nice and warm, not to mention moving, today?  Why last night’s ‘Hot Yoga Groove’  class at YBS of course!  Hey, desperate times and desperate temperatures call for drastic measures and if reflecting back on last night’s oven hot yoga class kept me going, then why not?  Besides, last night was not just any typical Friday ‘Hot Yoga Groove’  class, as I actually got to make the playlist myself!  And you KNOW how much I love making my playlists.

The deal was last night that I have had a long running joke with Catherine, the instructor, that funk would make a great soundtrack to an otherwise lively yoga class.  After all, how much Maroon 5 and Christina Aguilera can one man take week after week anyway?  So the gauntlet was dropped (or the invite extended, however you want to spin it) and I was allowed to come up with last night’s playlist for the 70 minute hot yoga class.  How exciting!  So just in case anyone is interested to try the same – and even if you’re not, I don’t give two fig newtons really – here is the playlist that came up with for the class.  Now if these tracks don’t warm your cockles up on your next winter run, or elicit a sweaty reaction during your next yoga session, then I don’t know what will.

Movin’ On Up (Primal Scream) 4:02 – No, this is not the theme to The Jefferson’s; there’s no fish frying in the kitchen and there’s no beans burning on the grill here.  What there is just a whole lot of rhythmic awesomeness.  From the opening bongos to the boogie-woogie piano to the jangly guitars to the backing church choir there is just whole lot of reason to get your butt a-waggin’ during your first downward dog.  Besides, with a chorus that repeats:

I’m movin’ on up now
Getting out of the darkness
My light shines on
My light shines on
My light shines on

Well, it just screams yoga doesn’t it?

Also Sprach Zarathustra (Deodato) 8:54 – Here’s a dandy to get the blood flowing.  Basically, this long funkified version of the ‘2001: A Space Odyssey’  provides a nice, lengthy funkatastic build-up to really get things heated up and moving as you begin to work through your first series of Sun Salutations.

Green Onions, Hip-Hug-Her (Booker T. & the MG’s) 3:22/2:19 – Now that everybody’s warmed up and groovin’, it’s time to have some fun to some shorter, instrumental funky soul classics. Consider it something to bop along to while resting oneself in Pigeon Pose.

It’s your Thing (The Isley Bros.) 2:40 – It’s a little known fact that this particular influential funk anthem was written as a tribute to the rising feminist movement of the late 1960’s, so I thought I’d just toss it in and offer the opportunity to the girls in the class to let roar.  Of course, it came out as more of a long drawn out sigh of relief after coming out of holding Warrior III Pose  but, hey, you take what you can get, am I right?

25 Miles (Edwin Starr) 3:20 – With a quarter of the class now over, I figured it was time to throw a little Motown Magic in there to kick start everyone into overdrive.  This is one of my favorite tunes of all time and love to position it in my workouts, whether it be a long run, bike or whatnot, right around the start of beginning to find my pace in order to fuel some life into my limbs and get me a-hustlin’.  Why would hot yoga be any different?

I Want You Back (Jackson 5) 2:59 – Yeah, yeah, yeah…but at least it’s cool Michael Jackson long before the nose, Bubbles and the Conrad Murray debacle. You know, back when he was still a decent performer and not so much a media circus freak.  Anyhow, it’s a good high energy funky tune to keep things a groovin’ along at a decent pace now that things are definitely sweaty and growing more challenging by the second.

Son of a Preacher Man (Dusty Springfield) 2:28 – I thought that a little slinky Memphis funk would be appropriate right about now, so I tossed on a little Dusty Springfield to appeal to the largely feminine persuasion in the room.  Hey, seein’ as how everyone is all hot n’ bothered anyway…

Right Place, Wrong Time (Dr. John) 2:54 – Okay, hitting the halfway point now and the temperature has now easily risen higher than the advertised 100-degrees; time for a little added motivation with another pumping rhythm in order to get us through the next 30 minutes.  What to do, what to do…ah yes, Dr. John!  But although this may the right time, it’s definitely not the wrong time.

Everyday People (Sly & the Family Stone) 2:19 – Nothing could ever consider itself as ‘groovy’ unless it also included a little Sly & the Family Stone.  What can I say?  Rules are rules and I’m a law-abiding yogi.

Superfly (Curtis Mayfield) 3:53 – Don’t laugh.  Sure it’s from the soundtrack of the popular 1972 Blaxploitation flick directed by Gordon Parks, Jr., but remember, this was one of the few soundtracks to have ever outgrossed the actual film itself.  And it’s no wonder given the slick soul that literally oozes forth from Curtis himself, much like the sweat from my own leaky pores at this point.

Groove Me (King Floyd) 2:55 – Anything that starts off with “Uhh! Awww, sookie sookie now!  Hey! Oww, uhh! Come on, baby!”  is bound to be well-received in anything identifying itself with ‘groove’.  How can you go wrong?

Get Up (I Feel Like Being a) Sex Machine (James Brown) 5:16 – I could hardly consider myself as a ’funk aficionado’ if I didn’t throw a little James Brown into the mix.  The only real threat here is that given we are all extremely hot and sweaty by now as we’re nearing the end of our class, would this funk classic send anyone totally over the top causing them to spontaneously combust in Wheel Pose?   Thankfully not!  It worthy of a mention here that during this particular track, I successfully completed my first full Wheel; not once, but twice!

Givin’ Up Food for Funk (The JB’s) 3:09 – It seemed only appropriate then that I follow up James Brown with another track by the same band that made him famous in the first place.  Some particularly vicious horns and a killer rhythm section here make for a particularly funky groove to be sure.  Now, I’m not likely to give up food for just about anything, however, right about now I’d give my eye teeth for a coconut water beverage to replace all my spent electrolytes.

The Golden Age (The Asteroids Galaxy Tour) 3:50 – Yes, I know, it’s the Heineken commercial.  Well, tough!  It’s also one of the catchier, more modern funk numbers by someone other than another weird Lady Gaga type of shit and, to me, that makes them pretty cool.  I also couldn’t help but notice a lot more rear ends wiggling (not that I notice these types of things mind you) during our last forward bends which leads me to believe that the others may have agreed.

Shaky Ground (Etta James) 3:21 – Etta has been making legions of soul and funk fans sweat for generations now, which makes her an amazing way to begin winding things down in a hot yoga class.  Originally a hit for the Temptations, Etta brings her own unique powerful feminine pizazz to our studio to close our last Supported Shoulder Stands.  And,  can’t speak for anyone else of course, but by this point in the class any stands of mine are bound to be on shaky ground making this a rather fitting track to finish up the class.

Sexual Healing (Marvin Gaye) 4:10 – Okay, sure, one might not automatically think of this super-sexy tune to be a fit, or appropriate for that matter, way to end out a hot yoga session in shavasana.   Well, to that I say: “Pfft!  Whatever!”   This might be my one and only chance of ever getting to play Marvin Gaye to a roomful of hot and sweaty girls and not have anything to explain to my girlfriend afterwards.  Capeesh?   And what guy wouldn’t ever jump at that opportunity?  No, I thought not.

Now, chances are that setting a hot yoga class to a funky soundtrack may not appeal to everyone, particularly those of you who are in it more for the more practical or meditative aspects.  So just in case you happen to subscribe to either of those particular no-nonsense yoga notions, perhaps you would more enjoy January’s asana from the 2012 Yoga Kittens’  calendar I got for Christmas instead.

“Gentlemen, please put your paws together for CANDY!!”

There.  Happy now?

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