Rock-and-Roll Yoga Instructor

It may look like classic yoga, but Hot Yoga instructor Alexandra Luzzatto, center, and her students don't listen to New Age music -- try the Clash instead.
It may look like classic yoga, but Hot Yoga instructor Alexandra Luzzatto, center, and her students don't listen to New Age music -- try the Clash instead. (By J Carrier For The Washington Post)
By The Insider
Sunday, December 18, 2005

A DIFFERENT VIBE: I've been a yoga instructor since April, but I started practicing yoga 12 years ago in Los Angeles. One of my teachers was this guy named Steve Ross. His class was jampacked, and he played really loud music all the time. It was just a really different vibe. People laughed in class, people talked in class -- it was really wild. Nobody was doing it in D.C., so I approached Bentley [Bentley Storm, the owner of Hot Yoga] in August and the class started in September.

HARdcORE ROOTS: The audacity of doing something like a rock-and-roll yoga class definitely comes from my punk rock roots. When I was 14, I hated everything and discovered punk. My parents quickly figured out there was nothing they could do about it. My dad [Joseph Tydings, a former Maryland senator] stopped making me go to fundraisers, because I had purple hair. My first hardcore show was Rites of Spring at the Chevy Chase Community Center. So much of punk is teenage rebellion, and there were certainly racist skinheads running around, but somehow the D.C. hardcore scene was really smart. If someone started to fall down in the pit, everybody would pick him up. Nobody was going to get trampled.

WARRIOR PRINCESS: I was in L.A. for 10 years and the more I was acting, the more I needed yoga. Hollywood can be a little superficial, to put it mildly. Yoga is a good place to get out of your head. Acting is wonderful, working is fantastic, and auditioning is hell. I was really lucky from the beginning because I got to make my living as an actress on "Xena: Warrior Princess."

BEGINNERS BEWARE: The class is growing for sure. It's attracting a lot of new people, which is fun but also tough because it's an advanced-level class. It's really loud music, so I'm not going to be able to walk you through all of the important beginning steps. I tell beginners they are welcome, but I want them to be very careful. I want them to listen to their bodies, come to child's pose all the time and take beginner classes throughout the week.

BODY BLISS: If you read some of the ancient texts of yoga, the point is to reach a state of bliss. It's not about doing the perfect backbend or the perfect handstand. It's about getting your whole being to a state of oneness with the universe. Listening to great music is inspiring. For me, it's right in alignment with classical yoga even though it's not what you'd expect.

MUSICAL MANTRAS: The music you hear in class doesn't have to be happy, but I want it to make you feel good. U2 works really well for yoga. I'm not a huge U2 fan, but I think it works, because it's so big and it has that "it's a beautiful day to be alive" feel to it. We've had some Clash, some Beastie Boys, some Dr. Dre. I try to talk loud over the misogynistic parts. The best music, from a creative point of view, is not about the words. It's about the melody, the bass line, the groove. You don't want to be listening to the words in yoga. If the words snap you into thinking in a verbal way, then that defeats the purpose.

NAMASTE: America is so results oriented and competitive that people get so nitpicky that they miss the whole point. Yoga is about spirit and feeling connected to something bigger than yourself. When you're more lighthearted, you end up having fun and actually working harder. Then, you get those results you were going for. I really like that a lot.

As told to Rachel Beckman

Rock-and-Roll Yoga is Sundays at 10:30 a.m. and Mondays and Wednesdays at 7:30 p.m. (Luzzatto teaches the Sunday and Monday classes.) Hot Yoga, 3408 Wisconsin Ave. NW. $15. 202-468-9642.http://www.hotyogausa.comor

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