By: Nina Clevinger
Sweat drips onto a long, colorful mat – dozens of them filling empty spaces on the hard ground. Mirrors line the walls, rows of people twisting and turning their bodies in between them. Music is playing in the background, and Karla Huffman, 31, is standing back; watching, teaching, orchestrating everything.
Huffman is better known as Gypsy Yoga – a brand she says is not her name, but something she feels she is. Gypsy Yoga is taking Chicago by storm these days, it seems. From “Yomosas” (Yes, Yoga and Mimosas in one. Yes) to “Trap Yoga,” Huffman definitely knows how to bring her fun, spirited energy into a studio.
After leaving her job in 2014 to become a full-time yoga instructor, Huffman hasn’t looked back since.
“Living in the city, we take ourselves so fucking seriously,” said Huffman, regarding the Type-A personalities that are so common amongst Chicagoans. “Let’s have fun, let’s laugh. Let’s all make fun of ourselves – that’s what my yoga is.”
Huffman got the idea to start her incredibly refreshing “Trap Yoga” when she was at home sequencing for one of the classes she teaches at a yogi-favorite studio, Corepower.
“I listen to the most ratchet music when I do [my sequencing],” said Huffman, laughing. “Sometimes I listen to a lyric and I’m like, wait – did he really just say that? But it’s fun.”
The idea behind Trap Yoga is simple: fun. Going to classes constantly – especially at studios like Corepower – can lead to students not thoroughly enjoying all the benefits of yoga. They’re more focused on doing the moves right, getting in shape – which is great, and encouraged – but there’s just so much more to yoga than getting a banging body. Huffman hopes to remind her students of that by hosting classes where everyone makes a complete fool out of themselves for 75-minutes – all to the soundtrack of some crazy trap music.
“We have a mantra at Trap,” said Huffman. “’Fuck it Friday.’ It’s scary, but it’s fun. Let’s have fun!”
A Chicago-girl born and raised, Huffman has been everywhere. And that’s something she doesn’t plan on changing anytime soon. She began her yoga journey in San Francisco, and then took it all the way to New York, where she became an instructor. She returned to Chicago and has been here ever since, but she doesn’t see herself staying in one place for long.
“I literally feel like a fucking gypsy,” she said, that laugh never stopping.
Her classes, much like Huffman herself – are always on the move. That’s where the whole “Gypsy Yoga” thing comes into play.
She believes anyone can be “Gypsy Yoga” – it just depends on where one’s head is at the time.
“You can all be ‘Gypsy Yoga,’” said Huffman. “Whatever you think your yogi is, that’s what it is.”
Huffman’s next crazy fun event is another Yomosa day on October 8th, at the Promontory in Hyde Park, Chicago. Students can enjoy champagne and snacks after a 75-minute intensive class. Following that comes the next Trap Yoga event on October 14th, at shared creative space, Rational Park, located in Humboldt Park, Chicago.
As for the future, Huffman wants to continue with what she is currently doing, and expand her different yoga classes to a multitude of venues, spreading those good vibes and that gypsy love all over the world.