THE times, as we see, they’re a-changin. Gone are the days of the archetypal yogi teaching his group of compliant disciples in a quintessential riverside ashram. But, to just say variations of this ancient practice has significantly diversified into avant-garde iterations and cultures, too would be a gross understatement. Because today, yoga has not just gone mainstream, it has also gone way, way beyond. Every year, there are new trends when it comes to the way we exercise and necessarily so, for keeping up-to-date with the prerequisites of the fitness-possessed bourgeois is no cosy crack.
Therefore, commercialisation, or not, practitioners are going all out to put into action any mutation that might help serve the greater purpose – cute animals, nudity, marijuana – you name it, and there’s a yoga form to back it. So, no matter what your poison, trust these bohemian yoga pundits to be up for anything that has the potential to get you out on the mat.
BEER YOGA: THERE’S MAGIC IN EVERY BOTTLE
There’s nothing quite like putting down an icy cold beer, add to that a prospect of journeying towards the ultimate transcendence of the Self (without having to worry about your blood-alcohol content, of course) and voila! Your answer is Beer Yoga. Yes, beer and yoga. As unlikely as the permutation may appear, this one fitness trend is taking the world by a storm, after having enjoyed its 12-month maiden stint in Germany. BierYoga, as the creators call it, hit the southern hemisphere earlier this year, with Sydney, Melbourne and Canberra going all out to get bendy as they knocked back their choicest brews. The hour-long sessions were priced at a friendly $10, drink not inclusive however. “BeerYoga is fun, but it’s no joke,” says founder and yogi, Jhula on their official BierYoga website. “We take philosophies of yoga and pair it with the pleasure of beer-drinking to reach your highest level of consciousness.” Need any more convincing?
CANNABIS YOGA: SMOKE AWAY THE WOES
The mingling of weed with yoga is theoretically an ancient practice. Cannabis use is believed to allow for a quieting of the outside world, and the ability to focus totally on the interior process of meditation. And, now with more and more states leaping on to the legalisation wagon, it’s only a matter of time before stoned yoga extends its grasp outside of San Francisco and takes on the rest of the world. Yoga teacher, Dee Dussault – the author of Ganja Yoga: A Practical Guide to Conscious Relaxation, Soothing Pain – writes on her official website the tussles of taking on the role of a Ganja Yogi: “No one – not a single person – showed up for my first class in my living room in Toronto… I kept at it. I had to. Cannabis-enhanced yoga was too powerful, too healing, not to… Today, [such] yoga classes are sprouting up everywhere, and I can tell you that ganja yogis come in every shape, gender, sex orientation, ethnicity and age… they are badasses for trying something different!”
GUNS N’ YOGA
Just when you thought it couldn’t get any stormier, the world came up with Gun Yoga! Not sure if this could become a new movement in the yoga universe, but experts sure say the added adrenaline of loaded firearms increases mindfulness and self-love. As of now, the craze is catching on in California where real firearms are being incorporated into Vinyasa Flow Yoga. The yogis are meant to operate the guns as they go through each pose. The classes are conducted by Dale, who also happens to be a member of the NRA (National Rifles Association, America). He was stationed with the US Army in India when he came up with the concept of Gun Yoga. “Guns have a deep spiritual connection to our bodies; guns have bodies. I was reborn the first time I did yoga with my gun. It transformed me,” says Dale.
You’ve GOAT to try this!
When Goat Yoga started popping up on farms in the United States last year, it was only likely that Aussies to follow suit in due time. Cut to August 2017, Inge Sildnik was already teaching her first goat yoga class in Sydney’s Galston. A professional stuntwoman with over 16 years of experience as a yoga teacher, Sildnik told The Sydney Morning Herald: “I was really unsure about what was going to happen and how it was going to go. It was all pretty crazy but there were smiles all around, so it was pretty awesome.” The Daily Telegraph also quoted her as saying: “Some of the goats would come and wander through and they’d eat right near you. When people are happy and they’re smiling, it obviously works to release your endorphins and your happy hormones and it reduces the cortisol stress levels.” Sure thing!
ALIEN YOGA: YOUR SPACESHIP READY YET?
As far as Instagram trends go, contorting your tummies into unrecognisable shapes is the current “in” thing that goes by the name of Alien Yoga. Traditionally known as Nauli, this yoga style has, however, been around for centuries. It requires exhaling completely before detaching the abdomen and pulling it under the ribcage. Once done, you can go on to contract and release the stomach muscles to create a rolling movement. As upsetting and challenging as it may sound, it is supposed to come with a roll of health benefits that include better digestion, improvement of will power, emotional stability, fixing hormonal imbalances and keeping your organs in shape.
YOGA ON A HORSEBACK
This new trend of horseback yoga is taking Vinyasa with animals to a whole new level because (obviously), when you can practise on horseback, why bother with yoga mats? And mind you, unlike any other methods of yoga that include animals, this one actually involves balancing postures on a horse’s back! No mean feat, considering how difficult it can be simply getting into the saddle. The practice may have originally sprouted as a means to build core stability, equilibrium and help yogis remain intrinsically aware of the present, all while crafting a one-off coalition with an animal amidst nature – but today, it is more of a social media movement on the verge of becoming a luxury offered only in opulent eco-resorts around the world.
GONE TO THE DOGS, LITERALLY
Invite your pooch to the yoga mat and quality time would no longer be limited to beach walks and couch cuddles. With Doga or Dog Yoga rapidly gaining popularity as the latest fitness fad, you can now expect the bond with your canine friend to hit an all new level. Like regular yoga, Doga is aimed at balancing, harmonising, purifying and transcending the body and mind of the practitioner. It involves taking your dog through specific yoga poses with you or just letting them be around you while you practise. Doga enthusiasts are of the opinion that the exercise intends to emphasise the union between two beings – to help establish a pack mentality, strengthen the bond between owner and pet – each while putting a bit of additional weight resistance, which intensifies the yoga ritual. But for all we know, the pups sure provide a great deal of entertainment, Doga or not!
This is not for the faint-hearted. Many might squirm in their seats at the very idea of taking off their clothes to perform a bridge pose, let alone doing it in the presence of strangers. But Rosie Rees, the swashbuckler of Naked Yoga in Australia agrees to disagree. She told the Australian Yoga Journal: “My own body image issues and learning to love my imperfections inspired me to start holding nude yoga workshops. I found that when I did my yoga naked, I felt a deeper sense of self-acceptance, body love and freedom in my skin, versus when I practised with my clothes on.” Moving on to discuss about couples’ nude yoga, Rees writes on her official page: “Throughout the practice, we guide the woman deeper into her femininity and the man deeper into his masculinity… as we continue to hold space for each other. We do this through a series of tasteful and non-invasive postures and stretches whereby each partner surrenders and the other partner assists.”
KARAOKE YOGA: SING WHILE YOU STRETCH
For those of you in favour of letting your inner Elvis out, here’s your chance. You can now shake up your asanas and break the monotony with some good old rock n’ roll, provided you live in Los Angeles. One of the wackiest new trends in the yoga world, Karaoke Yoga is yet to hit the southern hemisphere but going by its popularity, our hunch says it’s hardly a matter of time. With the help of DJ Gina Mooring, LA-based yoga instructor, Jennifer Pastiloff has come up with this brand-new form of the practice through which you can enjoy one hour of unadulterated “joy-based” yoga-singing class! “This is about having the workout of your life, singing, dancing, feeling silly. The benefit is not only opening your body through yoga but feeling connected to the other students through the process of group singing. People are starved for connection in the world, and this class can offer that,” Pastiloff told Relaxnews. However, she does warn: “If you are looking for a strict, alignment-based yoga class, don’t come because this isn’t one of them.”
GLOW-IN-THE-DARK YOGA: UNLEASH YOUR NEON DEMONS
Love yoga? Love UV lights and paints? Then bump up the volume, put on your happiest neon hues and get ready to kick up your heels – because glow-in-the-dark-yoga (Glowga) is here to stay. This latest yoga epidemic that originated in Hong Kong in 2014, hit Sydney shores last year and is now spreading like wildfire on social media. Practised in the dark, this form requires yogis to smear their bodies in neon paint before surrendering to a more heightened taste of awareness caused by the brain relying largely on senses other than sight, because unlike a typical yoga class, performing in a blackout makes you more cognizant of your surroundings.
DID YOU KNOW?
- Yoga is the art and science of healthy living. The term “Yoga” is derived from the Sanskrit word “Yuj”, meaning “to join” or “to yoke” or “to unite”
- The science of yoga has its origin thousands of years ago, long before the first religions or belief systems were born
- Yoga is widely considered as the immortal cultural outcome of the Indus Saraswati Valley civilisation – dating back to 2700 B.C, long before the first religions or belief systems were born
- In the yogic lore, Shiva is seen as the first yogi or Adiyogi, and the first Guru or Adi Guru
- According to legend, on the banks of the lake Kantisarovar in the Himalayas, Adiyogi poured his profound knowledge into the legendary Saptarishis or “seven sages”
- The sages carried this powerful yogic science to different parts of the world, including Asia, the Middle East, Northern Africa and South America
- Interestingly, modern scholars have noted and marvelled at the close parallels found between ancient cultures across the globe
- However, it was in India that the yogic system found its fullest expression Agastya, the Saptarishi who travelled across the Indian subcontinent, crafted this culture around a core yogic way of life
While it’s not appropriate for me to judge individual preferences, my own inclination lies with yoga rooted in traditional practices. According to me, yoga is the best form of alternative medicine. Traditional yoga techniques harmonise the mind and transform the body. The effect is psychological, spiritual and physical. The asanas and the pranayama breathing technique ensure body balance, focus and concentration. It confirms the highest level of fitness format that is natural and long term. Yoga, in its purest form, is meditative yet vigorous, so, the custom must be followed in the most undiluted way possible.