Yoga in the air, yoga with a dog, yoga with an illegal substance: could these be real? Not only are they real, but with yoga’s increasing popularity, non-traditional yoga classes such as the ones mentioned are gaining popularity across the country. Below are a few you may not have heard of.
This type of high-flying yoga is generally practiced in a studio with silk scarf-like ropes or hammocks hanging from the ceiling. Pilates and dance are intertwined with more traditional poses, and some practitioners report getting taller as a result of regular practice. This can also be done without props but with one partner that lifts or supports the other.
Just as it sounds, this is yoga with the original downward-facing dog. These classes combine traditional yoga poses with massage for the dogs (and probably some napping). A well-behaved dog is a must for these classes; some complain that the dogs are too distracting, but others cite the stress relief benefits of hanging out with their dogs as a big bonus.
Still working out with animals, equine yoga focuses poses on hip and heart openers (beneficial for proper riding posture) and emphasizes the connection between horse and human. Yoga postures are performed standing beside the horse, and some can be continued while mounted.
Obviously not legal in every state in the union, cannabis yoga is gaining momentum in states like California with its 4:20 Remedy Yoga in Los Angeles. Participants certified to use medical marijuana are encouraged to come to class high (but not smoke on the premises). The idea is that the natural euphoric state produced by yoga is a great pairing with the high from smoking marijuana.
Stand-Up Paddleboard Yoga
This yoga is practiced on the water with a stand-up paddleboard replacing the mat. Balance in the body is key, as the board will react to even the slightest imbalance in a pose. Flexibility, strength, and balance are all cultivated in this practice, and most of the poses are in the traditional style of Iyengar with focus on proper alignment (crucial to staying dry!).
Practitioners follow a series of 40 poses in a hot room (generally 90 degrees or above). Also known as Modo yoga, this yoga emphasizes its original name’s Sanskrit meaning: freedom or liberation. The freedom practitioners seek is suffering from samsara, or life. Moksha/Modo studios must be “green” (made from and maintained with sustainable, ecologically-friendly materials), and a studio cannot use the name Moksha or Modo without being certified.
Participants in this type of yoga are guided through exercises that begin with faking laughter and usually end up as full-belly, total-body laughter. The founders cite research that supports laughter’s effectiveness at lowering blood pressure and stress. While not as intense as some of the other types of yoga, instructors do emphasize laughter that moves the whole body.
Wheelchair yoga is exactly as it sounds; traditional poses that are adapted for the wheelchair-bound participant. The form and alignment follows traditional guidelines and benefit balance, flexibility, and strength. Emphasis is on each participant making the pose their own, finding their edge and building from there.
Rave music guides the flow after a traditional warm-up in this class that does not rely on drink or drugs to have a good time. Poses are still traditional, and participants gather together after class to continue the party with a meal, usually one that is vegan and/or raw.
Many traditional yogis scoff at these variations, but practitioners believe that making yoga more accessible and less intimidating will help more people experience the benefits of this ancient exercise.
Getting tired of your yoga routine? Which of these classes would you try first?
Image by Kristen Wall via Flickr