When you walk into one of Britteny Floyd-Mayo’s yoga classes, it’s immediately clear this isn’t your typical yoga class. The 45-minute set goes through Vinyasa-style flows… and then Floyd-Mayo shares inspirational ratchet affirmations (“equal parts pep talk and real talk”), and a live DJ spins bass-heavy music. Welcome to Trap Yoga : a safe space to find your zen while also having fun and feeling like a badass.
Floyd-Mayo, AKA Trap Yoga Bae, created Trap Yoga as a response to feeling unwelcome in previous yoga experiences. After college (where she did her senior thesis on how yoga can help with anxiety and stress in transitional periods), she tried various studios and found the classes just didn’t resonate with her. “I would walk into the room, and I would have all those social anxieties you [have] going into a party. Like, ‘Am I wearing the right thing? Do I know anyone here? Am I standing in someone else’s corner?’ And a lot of times, people would confirm those anxieties.” She noticed a very homogeneous environment where she didn’t meet most of the checkboxes — “everything from perceived socioeconomic status to body types to the clothes they were wearing to their skin and hair… I’m a curvy black woman with big hair and a presence when I walk into a room. And I thought that was really odd, that this place where you’re supposed to go and be vulnerable and go through this journey of self-discovery, I find myself being the most self-conscious. And instead of opening up, you close down.”
She then went on her own self-journey to Rishikesh, India, to study Vinyasa yoga on her own. When Floyd-Mayo came back, she gave a few studios another go. She still didn’t feel completely comfortable but wanted to be immersed in a group practice setting, so she would show up to class, bring her own headphones, and listen to trap music. A friend suggested that, instead of pushing her agenda on these traditional yoga classes, “maybe you should just be a yoga teacher your damn self.” And so she did. “Sometimes when you can’t find a space, that doesn’t mean you need to wait for it,” says Floyd-Mayo. “It means you might need to be the one to create it.”
Trap Yoga is an extension of who Floyd-Mayo is as a person — energetic, positive, and unapologetically honest. Her logo is a set of blue lips baring gold teeth, because blue, her favorite color, represents the throat chakra (“I have a very overactive one”) and she rocked a set of gold teeth in seventh grade that she paid for with saved-up lunch money. (While she currently doesn’t have gold teeth, she does muse about buying a grill, much to her orthodontist’s chagrin.) A typical class is built around four different flows that correspond to four key songs. The first time, the flow is taught slowly and Floyd-Mayo adds her ratchet affirmations. The second time she talks a little less, and the third time through the flow a DJ turns up the music to “club-value loud, so you can’t hear any of your wack-ass thoughts and you just practice with your body exactly what you learned to the best of your ability.” Her current favorite song to practice to is Drake’s “Nice for What,” which she says is a female empowerment song about working hard and climbing to the top, wherever the top is for you.
The ratchet affirmations in each class are Floyd-Mayo’s signature takeaways for her students — motivational messages to encourage mental well-being and self-confidence even after the class has ended. “I really want people to understand that whoever you are is lovable, whoever you are is great, and when you learn to accept those things and accept yourself, you’ll find peace to stop trying to force yourself to be like the world or for the world to accept you. And you just gotta walk in who you are, and all the other stuff will fall into place. All of that is one big long way of saying, ‘Do you.'”
The response to Trap Yoga has been tremendous so far; twerking is welcome, and it’s not unusual to see people shed transformational tears in class. She calls her loyal fans tribe members, and they serve as the best word-of-mouth advocates of the brand. Floyd-Mayo is currently in the middle of a nationwide tour and working on an app that includes her ratchet affirmations, poses, and various-length classes to allow people to enjoy Trap Yoga anywhere, anytime. Later this year, she’ll host exposition style events that will have accompanying workshops with other women entrepreneurs.
Beyond the obvious physical benefits, Trap Yoga was created to empower anyone who doesn’t fit a particular stereotype or is not afraid to forge their own path, and all levels and backgrounds are welcome. Says Floyd-Mayo, “I think a lot of times, more than the blatant cursing and the big cultural appeal of Trap Yoga, what people are actually afraid of is inflexibility and not feeling like they fit in. And I tell people all the time, truth is, I’m the biggest f**king personality in the room, and everybody else is going to be safe. The hardest part of my class is showing up. All you have to do is show up, and the rest is easy and fun.”
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(Photo via Trap Yoga Bae )