“Yoga is the journey of the self. Through the self. To the self.” – The Bhagavad Gita
It’s believed that even just 5 minutes of yoga and concentrating on your breathing can reduce stress, but have you considered joining a group to push yourself even further? A ground-breaking US study even found that yoga is the perfect cure for a broken heart. The symptoms of ‘broken heart syndrome’ can range from thoughts of depression to heart-attack-like symptoms and everything in-between. Partaking in yoga activities is apparently more beneficial than chocolate and wine, as it increases levels of GABA, an amino acid inside us all which fights stress, depression and anxiety. Sometimes our bodies need a little help in producing the acid and yoga is an easy way to create a happier you.
Don’t know where to start? Psychologist Daniel Goleman’s book ‘The Science of Meditation’ advises how to begin, explaining “Turn off your phone and sit in a relaxed posture at your desk”. Sounds easy, right? So, what’s next? “For 10 minutes, focus entirely on your breath, in and out. The key is to notice when your mind wanders – which it will – and bring it back to your breathing.”
Companies try all sorts of fun (and some downright bizarre) ideas to try and convince us to get involved in yoga activities. From animal-orientated classes to emotion-orientated classes and even a class which requires a compete bare-bottom (even when doing the downward dog!), find some of the most interesting yoga classes here and be inspired to try something new!
1. Animal-orientated classes: Goat Yoga
You may have heard of goat yoga, which originated in Oregon, and if you haven’t then you’re missing out – picture a group of yoga-goers doing the downward dog on a relaxing farm setting whilst being surrounded by leaping goats looking all cute and enjoying life. Just be warned: if you practise a plank-type pose they may instinctively jump on top of you to join in.
2. Animal-orientated classes: Doga
Other animal-orientated classes include ‘doga’ where dogs are brought along to enjoy the fun with their owners and balance on your feet whilst stretching or your stomach or back whilst doing floor poses. This helps to build your strength and balance while giving you more time with your furry friend.
Well, assuming your pup is trained well enough anyway! If not, madness could ensue…
3. Animal-orientated classes: Hoga
There are even classes known as ‘hoga’, where people actually complete poses on top of a horses back. It is considered to be a deep practise of connection and interchange of energy with a horse and it is amazing for a photoshoot if you have good balance…
4. Outdoor classes: Twilight Yoga
Enjoy the beauty of the outdoors with twilight-orientated classes (the time of day, not the movie – sorry!) where yoga-goers flock to a park or pier in time to enjoy the serenity of doing yoga while the sun rises or sets to alcohol-themed classes, there is literally something for everyone.
5. Outdoor classes: SUP Yoga
Love getting your toes wet in the sea (and aren’t afraid of falling in and getting your hair wet too)? Then this is the perfect class for you.
Practising yoga on a stand-up paddle surfing (SUP), usually in calm water, is a crazy and surprisingly relaxing experience that tests and improves your balance. Other benefits include that the classes are believed to enhance your sense of connection throughout the infinitude of the ocean.
6. Outdoor classes: Hula Hoop Yoga
Ever considered doing yoga with a hula hoop? No, us neither. But it is actually a thing and it does actually have a wide range of benefits, from improving your coordination and figure to strengthening your core while encouraging creativity – it’s all about having fun with the hoop!
7. Emotion-orientated classes: Laughter Yoga
Believe it or not, Laughter Yoga is one of the more developed styles of yoga, due to it having world conferences and even its own ‘Laughter Yoga University’. Yes, honestly, it’s a real thing.
It’s a well known fact that laughing release our endorphins, making us happier but did you know that it also increases our blood pressure, burns calories and stimulates our brain and immune system?
Its “Fake it until you make it” advice is embarrassing for new-comers but the whole point is that we shouldn’t underestimate the power of simply laughing… a lot.
8. Emotion-orientated classes: Tantrum Yoga
Ever see a child having a tantrum and immediately feel a little stressed out? Well imagine if it were you having a tantrum whilst being surrounded by multiple adults also screaming and stamping their feet. Well, maybe you could do just that. According to Hemalayaa, the L.A. yoga teacher and founder of Tantrum Yoga, “we are emotional beings and there are times we need to let go of emotions, especially old stuff that’s sitting in there, festering. Otherwise it gets stuck in our bodies and could turn into stress or disease”. So next time you find yourself reaching for the ice-cream after a long stressful day, try a little chest-thumping instead. And if you feel silly having a tantrum in your living room, find a local Tantrum Yoga class and join in. You can all feel silly together.
9. Social-orientated classes: Parents and Baby Yoga
Most mothers hope to tone their body after pregnancy but with all the essential planning involved with having a baby, sometimes there just isn’t time. So, what can you do? Well why not get your baby to join in with your next yoga class?
The yoga develops inner-peace, believed to to deepen the connection and bounding between the baby and mum or dad and the rocking motion of some yoga movements mimick the sensation of being inside the womb, improving relaxation and the chances of a happy baby.
10. Balance-enhancing classes: Aeroyoga – Aerial Yoga
Defy gravity and try something new with an aeroyoga class. If you haven’t guessed by the name, it involves hanging on a belt or hammock while practising yoga and putting your balance to the test. It is believed to do wonders for the spine and is a totally new experience that makes you ask yourself ‘did I really just do that and live to tell the tale?!’ And it’s definitely an interesting conversation starter: “Hey, did I ever tell you about that time I hung upside-down from a strap attached to the ceiling with my head two inches from the floor?”
11. Alcohol-themed classes
Berlin’s beer yoga classes are full of women holding bottles of beer during their yoga stretches, while you can find a gin yoga class in Manchester, England in which attendees socialise after completing the poses with – you guessed it – gin and tonics.
12. Smoking-orientated classes
Believe it or not, there are yoga classes revolving around marijuana in places where it has been legalised, such as at Healthy Honeys in Colorado. There’s a class called Get Fit and Stay Lit that combines vapourising, “the preferred method of indulging for the health conscious,” with yoga.
It’s believed that even just 5 minutes of yoga and concentrating on your breathing can reduce stress, but have you considered joining a group to push yourself even further?
Dee Dussault, author of the book Ganja Yoga and a strong believer that cannabis has enhanced spiritual practice for millennia, defends the controversial classes by explaining their benefits:
Increases the relaxation and inner peace.
Sharpens your focus and concentration. “Instead of running through my grocery list during downward-facing dog, I was tuned in to how each muscle felt and the rhythm of my inhales and exhales.”
Facilitates an inwardly-focused practice and the re-connection with your body. Drops you into the practice faster and easier.
Increase of awareness, energy flow perception and the overall intensity of the experience.
13. Noga: Nude Yoga
Feeling confident in your skin? You’re not the only one – in fact there are classes for people who do _or who want more practise to) feel confident. Why? Everyone in class will be as uncovered as you… It’s definitely a case of throwing yourself in at the deep end but if it sounds right up your street then the benefits may be worth it!
It’s believed that the benefits include freedom of movements, greater awareness of your skin and appreciating the beauty of the human body while exploring its possibilities.
14. Pop Up Yoga
POP UP YOGA in Zürich, Switzerland constantly changes location and yoga lovers have travelled to a wide range of places ranging from the standard yoga in the park to less common locations such as an art gallery, on a roof and even in a nightclub.
15. Glow Flow Yoga
Loving the nightclub idea in Pop Up Yopga classes? Why not try Glow Flow Yoga?! With DJs, blacklights and fluorescent body paint you’ll have the time of your life! Get fit and have fun dancing, doing some yoga, and most of all: enjoy glowing.