"Some people are intimidated by yoga classes because they feel they don't look the body type and don't fit in," said Michelle Nelson, founder of YoBeatz.
"So I wanted to bring yoga to those people, specifically those areas that are not represented."
Ironically, Nelson is not a certified yoga instructor. In fact, she only started doing yoga two years ago. Nelson is a DJ with a Ph.D in music therapy. And her aim is to use music as a way to motivate people towards healing and wellness.
"Music is psychology at the very core," said Nelson. "Music does something very special for your heart and mind. If the right soundtrack is provided, it can actually induce feelings of connectedness and lend focus and help you find that place you want to get to."
Music as a motivator is more than a notion for Dr. Nelson, which is why she Deejays for Bloomingdales, Macy's and a slew of other high-end retail stores: Two years ago, she pitched to Bloomingdales her idea that certain types of music could encourage people to shop more. Bloomingdales bought the pitch.
Referral after referral, Nelson now has list of corporate clients who request her turntable therapy to motivate the masses.
So when Nelson started taking yoga, which she loved immediately, she noticed how some people shied away from it, because culturally or physically, they felt they did not connect.
Take a wild guess what she decided to do.
Nelson pulled together a roster of three certified yoga instructors and, together with her turntables, formed YoBeatz. The instructors take turns holding classes while Nelson provides live music-- music that is a little untraditional for yoga, but music that motivates, nonetheless.
"There's a feeling about it live that lends a different element," she said. "The goal is not to deviate from what the origin of yoga is all about. The concept is to play music that marries with the instructor's pace and breath of the class to come up with the formula where there is high intensity and low interaction."
YoBeatz has two types of classes: Yo Bliss, with music from parts of Europe, ambient, electronic, dub step, acid jazz; and Phresh Flow, which has more of a hip hop, soul, 80s music undertone.
"A lot of these genres of music have meshed Indian voices and instrumentals into their music, as well as a little R&B and funk," she said. "So there's a lot of options to pair the right soundtrack with the right class where it's not interrupting the practice, but accompanying it to make it more fun."
YoBeatz holds classes in Chelsea, and they've just launched a traveling component where they will do pop-ups on the weekends around the city.
"We had our first class on Saturday, and it was everything I had imagined and hoped for," said Nelson. "This summer, we will be on rooftops, in backyards, on patios, just to bring a different feel to the whole yoga community."
On Saturday, May 3, YoBeatz will hold a yoga brunch on the patio of Rustik Tavern, located at 471 Dekalb Avenue in Bed-Stuy, on the border of Clinton Hill.
Two classes will be taught by instructor Karen Shelley, at 9:00am and 10:30am. The 9:30am classes sold out, so hurry to catch a 10:30 class! Classes are $15. To purchase tickets, go here.
"We're not setting out to compete with any yoga classes," said Nelson. "We just want to reach those people who otherwise might be shy about yoga and make it fun for them. Because with each class, you get better and better.
"My motto is spread it to everybody so that they can be like, 'Oh yeah, I can do that too.'"