RICHLAND -- Music is a condiment that goes with everything, even yoga.
And while the ethereal sounds of soothing recorded music is the norm in most yoga studios, live music is not so common.
The Yoga Hut in Richland, under the zenful guidance of Jennifer Coats, is among the first to offer live music for her yoga classes.
"I have a background as a dancer and have long appreciated the unique experience of movement to live music," Coats said. "While live music yoga sessions is not a new idea, it is in no way common."
Coats adds that her reason for inviting Tri-City music therapist Bill Dluhosh to play guitar and drums for her classes was inspired by her belief that live music can have a profound effect on the body and the soul.
"In yoga, we work toward the mind-body-spirit connection, and in a sense we're working with our own instrument, ourselves," Coats said. "Live music creates the perfect atmosphere for yoga because the musician, instructor and students can energetically work off each other."
Dluhosh, a certified music therapist, is particularly talented in tuning into the group and the type of rhythm and instrument that is needed at a particular time during class, she added.
Coats approached Dluhosh a few months ago with the idea of providing live music to her classes. He was more than willing to give it a try.
"After talking with Jennifer and finding out what she was looking for, we decided to try it, and we've had very positive feedback from the participants," Dluhosh said.
Frank Sabatier, 42, drives from Walla Walla once a week to attend yoga classes at the Yoga Hut because he prefers Coats' style of teaching. The music turned out to be an added bonus.
"I am not a particularly musical guy, though I like my old albums," Sabatier said. "So the live music during yoga is not my main reason to be there. In fact, many yoga studios seem to focus so much on music, cranking it up so loud you can't hear your teacher talking, and that becomes a distraction for me.
"But I like Jen's Yoga Hut because she is serious about using yoga as a tool to improve your life rather than staying in the shallow waters of pure physical exercise."
He also has learned to appreciate the live music as well because it prevents interruptions when a playlist needs to be changed or the volume of the recorded music requires adjusting.
"Without all those distractions, it's a more peaceful and productive class," Sabatier said.
About a dozen clients take part in the live music and yoga class, which is offered a couple of times a month, Dluhosh said.
Dluhosh is a former music therapist for Kadlec Regional Medical Center in Richland. He now provides music therapy in the private sector.
"Jennifer is good at tailoring the classes to the individuals, which makes for a better overall experience," he said. "My music therapy training really comes in handy with this," he said.
Lisa Hawks, 33, of Richland, also sees a benefit from having live music in yoga.
"I love to take part in yoga because it is a total mind and body experience," she said. "I walk away feeling like it is one of the best exercises I could do for myself and doing yoga to live music is an awesome experience."
Cassie Malecha, 27, of Richland, has been practicing yoga on and off for four years. Her participation is motivated by the physical as well as the mental benefits, and the music enhances the whole experience, she said.
"Bill is able to feed off the energy of the class and alter his rhythm, pace and choice of instrument to best suit the class at the exact time," Malecha said.
Most of Coats' clients are women, but the handful of guys in her classes think more men should give it a try.
Sabatier, who works in the wind power industry, said he believes yoga holds a stigma with most men -- that practicing yoga is all about "eating low-fat margarine and wearing yoga pants," he quipped.
Donald Sorenson, a 34-year-old chemical tech at Hanford, couldn't agree more.
"I think the main reason more men do not do yoga is that it doesn't fit into the typical male workout," Sorenson said. He uses advertising gimmicks as an example.
"For men's deodorant, they show men lifting weights, playing sports, hiking, running and generally doing manly man things," he said. "Yoga is never mentioned in advertising for men."
To prove his point, Sorenson started taking yoga six weeks ago, and the intense workout has helped him drop 14 pounds.
"I have never liked working on my core muscles, but since I have started yoga, I enjoy it," he said. "As far as live music is concerned, it definitely adds something to the workout. While you always have some kind of music playing, when the music is live you can feel it more while working out."
Coats said she doesn't charge extra for the music sessions because she wants as many of her clients as possible to experience the live music, which are offered twice a week.
A single class is $15, a five-class session is $65, and a 10-class session is $110. Unlimited visits are $120 a month. The studio is at 953 Stevens Drive, Suite 1, in Richland. For more information, call 509-438-5481 or go to www.yoga-hut.com.