At electronic music fest, a different type of Movement

James David Dickson
The Detroit News

Detroit — Ryan Hatten, 27, isn’t used to this feeling.

The former University of Chicago wrestler, a four-time University Athletic Association champion at heavyweight, said it wasn’t easy at first, struggling to do yoga moves that women half his size could do easily. But yoga, Hatten said after a Sunday afternoon class at #Movement2016, has helped him “remove the ego” and embrace a new form, one where he is not at the head of the pack physically.

“Getting into something and not being able to hit the moves of tiny ladies is a bit different,” he said.

On Sunday, Hatten and almost 100 other electronic music festivalgoers started the second day of the three-day festival with a nice long stretch.

It’s also a good way to meet people, Hatten said, on a weekend when he’s in Detroit from Chicago.

“I feel like yoga is a more organic way to meet people at a festival. It combines a couple of my interests: music, connecting with folks, and getting active,” Hatten said.

The almost hourlong lesson was led by Najee Robbins, 23, who was assisted by Nicole Pettite, 25. Both are instructors for Detroit Yoga Lab, which is in its first year of leading classes at the festival, said owner Naomi Gold, 39, of Grosse Pointe.

Gold got into yoga years ago as a means of recovering from a back injury.

At first it was all about the “physical component,” Gold said, “but the more I practiced, the more I transcended what I felt physically. I just felt calmer, more able to deal with stuff in my life.”

In June 2012, she opened Detroit Yoga Lab. Through a mutual friend of the people who organize Movement, Gold was able to take yoga to the festival this year, to the Opportunity Detroit stage.

“I wanted to find a way to bring people together to do something healthy for themselves,” Gold said. “Regardless of gender, age, preference, race or religion.

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All skill levels were welcome for the class, which started at 12:30 p.m. The first 10 people who attended the class got free yoga mats, via Lululemon.

Minutes after those ran out, a second, much bigger wave of free towels and yoga mats arrived, courtesy of Tito’s Handmade Vodka. About 60 people were there as the class started; dozens more arrived over the next 50 minutes.

“No one cares what you look like,” Robbins said several times during the class. “Notice how you feel: This is not an accident.”

She and Pettite circulated through the group, helping participants perfect their poses.

“Find something that serves your body,” Robbins said, offering a mix of yoga instruction and life advice. “If it’s not serving you anymore, you can skip it.”

And as the heat picked up, heading north of 75 degrees by 1 p.m., some participants opted out of certain poses, preferring a drink of water or a mental recharge to keeping up with the class. They rejoined when they were ready.

Britta Bader, 32, came out for three reasons Sunday: “Music, life, people.”

Bader is about a year into practicing yoga. She took it up as a means of relieving sore muscles after workouts.

“It’s a long weekend of dancing and moving around,” said Bader, of Chicago, a nine-year veteran of the festival. “It feels good to stretch out.”

For Jacque Laurens, 31, the yoga class was the start of two days of music and dancing that might run together.

Laurens is a Movement veteran, missing only one year since 2009. She’s been doing yoga for a few years, but not as long as she’s been coming to Movement.

Save for a return trip to a friend’s house to drop off her yoga mat or take a nap, Laurens, who traveled to Detroit from Dayton, Ohio, planned to party and join the after-party events all night before doing it again Monday.

“We generally don’t sleep,” Laurens said. “There’s so much to do and so many parties to go to. Then we truck it into Monday.”

Detroit Yoga Labs will host another class at 12:30 p.m. Monday at the Opportunity Detroit stage.