Kyle Wagner
Denver Post

What’s the first rule of Friday Night Yoga Club?

Um … that we do not talk about Friday Night Yoga Club?

gfdgWrong. “You break it, you buy it!” says Mike Matsumura, and it’s hard not to laugh, but laughing means not being able to keep up as the long-haired, ever-moving yogi throws out questions and jokes as rapid-fire as he announces poses — Urdhva Mukha Svanasana and now Adho Mukha Svanasana to Utkatasana and then again but this time Virabhadrasana, more commonly known as upward and downward dog pose and chair pose and then Warrior Two — to warm up.

“Thank god for Warrior Two, huh?” he says. “Let’s just stay here for a minute and catch our breath. Remember, you break it…”

The second rule of Friday Night Yoga Club is “breathe.” And it’s not hard to hear the 40 people very much present at this wintertime weekly yoga gathering breathing. By now, some of us are panting, and most have broken into a sweat.

“If you aren’t breathing, well, I think we know that’s a problem,” Matsumura says.

What isn’t a problem is enjoying Matsumura’s easygoing style, which comes with a soundtrack courtesy of DJ Erik on this particular Friday night. Michael Jackson’s “Don’t Stop ‘Til You Get Enough?” The Stones’ “Sympathy for the Devil?” This isn’t your grandmother’s yoga, with its series of classes that are actually so much more — visiting Thai massage therapists from Denver Integrative Massage School and sometimes acupuncturists or other holistic therapy experts, as well as social time afterward with food, dancing and even live music, all of which capitalizes on the natural high that yoga often generates.

“We wanted to offer something on a weekend night that’s healthy and fun,” says DJ Erik, who happens to be Evergreen resident Erik Vienneau, co-founder of Friday Night Yoga Club two years ago along with Denise Cook, a CorePower yoga instructor in Denver. “The main intention of the thing is to have people experience different venues and different teachers, sort of like dating for yogis. If you don’t know what studio fits, this is a great way to find out.”

That’s why Denver resident Keaka Jackson is here. He bought a five-pack of Friday Night Yoga passes and is on his third event. “I thought this would be a good way to find out about yoga studios and teachers,” Jackson says. “So far, all of them have been great, but Mike is really impressive; he’s the perfect combination of entertainment and energy. I’d love to do more classes with him.”

Cecily Yosaf, who lives in Englewood, says she had been worried that the yoga would be too advanced and that she wouldn’t fit in. “I thought, ‘Oh, great, this is probably going to be filled with really bendy people,’ ” she said during social time after the class, digging into organic salad and a fresh batch of kombucha tea. “But there are all kinds of levels represented, and the teachers make everyone feel welcome. And the teachers themselves have all been so different. The acro-yoga night was amazing. I never would have checked that out on my own.”

Vienneau — also the instigator of the popular summer counterpart Yoga Rocks the Park — says that the yoga studios host the events on a volunteer basis, and there are Friday clubs in the Denver area through the end of March and Boulder into May.

“This is Colorado, so that means beginner level is a little higher than elsewhere,” Vienneau says. “If this is your first time, I don’t know that these nights are for you, but your second? We try to make newbies feel welcome. You might be struggling to keep up if you’re brand new, but that’s part of the fun.”

Here’s something fun: Standing on your head, which I haven’t done since, oh, Ford was president, when he and I were pretty much equally famous for clumsiness.

Matsumura, though, is famous for getting everyone into “inversion poses,” the upside-down ones. Sure enough, by the end of the class, I’d done it not once, but three times.

And fortunately, nothing broke.


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