“I like to look at it as an avenue to bring in more openness,” Jamel Randall, massage therapist and yoga instructor, says of his unique approach to traditional yoga. He folds trap music into his classes in an effort to invite an urban audience and “more people who wouldn’t try it – not even just black people – but people in this culture that listen to music and want to do something different.”
He calls his events Trap Sundays, and the next one is scheduled for April 22, and you can expect an upbeat, turnt atmosphere, but Randall still promises “real, legit yoga,” from the traditional Ashtanga poses to meditation and uplifting moments of silence. “You’re going to get beats, you’re going to get flow and you’re going to find your edge all in the same class,” he says.
Randall had been a massage therapist at MGM Grand Detroit for years, then left to start his own practice, during which he says he got into yoga more faithfully. Back then – and even still – he would attend classes in Birmingham, and each time, he says he’d be the only black person in the room. He says he never felt too out of place because he’s great at assimilating to any environment, but he did sit back and wonder if there was a way to bring this out of the suburbs and to our people in an approachable way. So, he started training to become an instructor and eventually started leading his own classes and says, “Before I knew it, I had a strong following behind it.”
Continuing to introduce yoga and other fitness regimens to the black community is of the utmost importance. “We ignore the things that we feel in our bodies on a day-to-day basis,” Randall says. “We cover it up with medicines and different things instead of actually taking care of the source of the problem. He says that gradual wear and tear may prove detrimental in the long run. Yoga’s focus on mental strength can also benefit our community, which – more often than is healthy – tends to shun vulnerability and emotion for a stiff upper lip instead.
No matter your age, body type, skill level or skin color, Randall aims to create a comfortable environment that is uninhibited and free from judgment. “I like to say it’s like when you give your kids the medicine but you put it in some candy or you put it in some juice,” he says. “That’s what I’m doing. I’m feeding them the medicine but it’s in this trap music.”
April 22 • 3-5 p.m.