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Hip hop meets holistic healing in Tampa yoga studio

As the class breathed deeply, eyes closed meditatively, and rolled forward into downward-facing dog, DJ Menscha mixed seamlessly into Candyman's Knockin' Boots, changing the air in the room.

The mellow rap hit from 1990 doesn't seem like it would lend itself well to a yoga class, but Michele Smith thinks differently.

"I love hip-hop and I used to teach it, so I wanted to match the two," said Smith, 36, a yoga instructor. "Hip-hop is aggressive … but I think it pairs well with yoga and helps bring it into modern terms."

The idea came to Smith after the death of her brother, also a hip-hop lover, to help her heal.

On a Saturday night, Menscha — 39-year-old real estate agent Darius DeBurh — loosened the nerves by opening with a mellow, downbeat remix of Pharrell Williams' Happy, which increased the energy in the room immediately.

"Do you guys like my music?" he asked and got a round of applause.

For more on Tampa's hip-hop yoga class, click here for Robbyn Mitchell's story.