What to try, what to search, what to avoid
For yoga purists, there are plenty of classes out there to practice pranayama and asana. For everyone else, well, there are a lot of new choices out there. This summer, some older yoga fads are holding steady while some are popping up anew. So if you’re the type of person who can get on board with a remix, here’s what’s worth a second look, what’s worth dropping in on, and what you can probably skip.
If you’re into asana and following a sequence, breathing on the movement, and so on, this is not going to be your cup of tea. Yes, the poses have names, and yes, most instructors will teach you a sequence, but it doesn’t resemble traditional yoga in nearly every way. It is a bit more like partner gymnastics than it is partner yoga, but it can be a lot of fun. Be warned though: If you don’t like touching people, this is not the yoga for you, as you will most likely end up, up close and personal with someone—as in your feet in their armpits up close.
Cat and goat yoga have both taken off recently. These combine animal therapy with yoga, and according to many of their practitioners, the animals help take the pressure off—it’s hard to take yourself too seriously with goats or cats romping around. Obviously, if you have animal allergies, you may want to skip this one. Also, if you’re easily distracted and have trouble focusing, these could be difficult practices to enjoy, as you are supposed to do the poses, as opposed to playing with cute animals on your mat.
Aerial yoga is not quite as Cirque du Soleil as it sounds, but it gives you just enough of a taste of it to make you feel pretty brave. A silk hammock hangs from the ceiling, the bottom a few feet from the ground, and it supports you so you can go deeper into poses and have better balance. For the upside down poses, you get to dangle above the floor and enjoy the benefits of an inversion while also getting spinal traction.
SUP yoga (stand-up paddleboard yoga) has been around a while now, and you can find it in a lot of cities whether or not they’re near water. YMCAs and other community pools host classes and, typically, provide the boards as well. It can be a lot of fun, especially if it is a lake or pond, as you get to be out in nature too. Water yoga, on the other hand, is exactly what it sounds like: yoga in water. It is great for people with joint or balance problems or anyone who wants to spend some time in the water, whether to cool down from the summer heat or just because you love the pool.
Beer yoga is not an event at a brewery, where you practice yoga and then drink beer—that happens at many breweries and wineries, so read descriptions of classes carefully. Beer yoga is doing yoga with a beer in your hand and being instructed to sip it as part of the poses. Traditional yoga, and exercise in general for that matter are done sans inebriation for many reasons, not least of which is it’s easier to injure yourself when drunk and it can easily make you sick to your stomach. If you feel like getting your buzz on, maybe wait until after you’ve practiced. At the very least, anyone trying this should be aware of their tolerance level and be familiar with yoga already to cut down on possible injuries.
Yoga is all about non-judgment, so if any of the above strikes your fancy, go for it. Just be safe, find a class that has a teacher with proper training, and take it with a Zen smile–even if yogis out there claim that it’s “not real yoga.”
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