Unconventional yoga class adds a twist to traditional practice

From Boca Raton to West Kendall, people have come from all over South Florida to Hialeah for this free yoga experience. With a giant, illuminated disco ball and a live DJ, the class has found a surprising twist at Thrift Vintage, a warehouse on West 84th Street. 

Carmen Martinez was one of 30 attendees on a recent steamy spring morning who commuted all the way from Boca Raton.

“It is really fun,” says Martinez. “The environment was cool, and the instructor was amazing.” 

This unconventional yoga class, which started May 13, aims to foster community and provide a fun weekend activity. Co-owner of Thrift Vintage, Evelyn Frankel saw a need for free events in Hialeah. 

“We wanted to build community awareness,” says Frankel. “We wanted to create fun events because there’s not much to do in West Miami.”

Maisy McDermott is a more experienced yogi than Martinez, who also drove all the way from Boca Raton. She says she felt very spiritual after the class. 

“I felt good,” said McDermott. “I’m a Yoga Joint member so I wanted to come by and support. I thought it was cool that they added a disco ball. That’s different. I’m looking forward to coming here again.”

Traditionally, yoga is done in silence with the goal of unifying the mind, body and soul. A class that prominently features a disco ball and a DJ would seem to contradict the traditional practice. 

But some practitioners think the traditional way keeps people from wanting to try yoga.  

Natalie Morales, an instructor at Open Door Yoga in Coconut Grove, has been a yogi for more than three decades. She believes that unconventional forms of yoga make the practice more fun for people who are new to it. She explains the origin of the practice and says that traditional yoga today wouldn’t have been considered traditional in the past.

“If you’re really going to do traditional yoga as it looks like in ancient scriptures, we’d be doing it one on one,” Morales said. “I’d be living at the master’s house, and I’d probably be a man because it was only open to men at first.”

Yogis practicing yoga at Thrift Vintage. (Alejandra Carralero/Caplin News)

The fusion of yoga with elements of popular culture exemplifies the adaptability of ancient practices. By incorporating a lively and energetic ambiance, the class aims to attract a diverse range of people who may have been hesitant to try traditional yoga. This inclusive approach reflects the evolving nature of yoga and its ability to cater to different preferences and needs.

“It’s not the traditional practice, but it’s 2023,” says Victoria Cinnate, an instructor for Yoga Joint. “We’ve allowed the practice to evolve, and we’ve created this amazing experience for people to feel receptive and safe to try yoga.” 

The collaboration between Thrift Vintage and Yoga Joint not only brings a fresh experience to the residents of Hialeah but also contributes to the broader community. By offering this free yoga class, Frankel hopes to foster a sense of belonging, encourage physical and mental well-being, and establish Thrift Vintage as a hub for community engagement. 

“If you live in the area I think that it’s a great way to meet like-minded individuals,” says Frankel. “You can meet people in your community.”

Martinez, who drove down from Boca, states she wouldn’t have done yoga if it weren’t for the free class. 

“I honestly don’t do a lot of yoga at all,” she said. “I’ve only been to two or three classes ever, but this was fun. I love events like this, I would do it again!”

The next class will be held on Saturday, July 1.

This story was produced in conjunction with the Coconut Grove Spotlight.

Keilyn Quintero is a senior majoring in digital communications and media with a track in digital journalism. After she graduates, she wishes to pursue a career as a music journalist.  

Alejandra Carralero is a Miami based senior majoring in digital journalism.  She has passion for cats (especially hers), the environment, and artsy movies. After graduating she hopes to travel the world to search for interesting stories the world needs to hear.