Yoga has a reputation in India, and it's not good. The words generally associated with yoga are "boring", "easy", "just for flexibility", spiritual, "not a workout", and most commonly "not for me". It has typically been an outcome of media attention and discussion led by a few religious men and massive "yoga shivirs" allocating yoga for women and elderly, like the crypts in the Battle of Winterfell.
I started my yoga journey in 2013 with basic Hatha Vinyasa flow at Seema Sondhi Yoga Studio in South Delhi. As the years went by, my yoga journey took me to Ashtanga classes in Mysore, Lotus flow in New York, Friday night glow yoga parties in Minneapolis and AcroYoga in Los Angeles.
Yoga stopped to be just a form of exercise or fitness regime for me but was now an integral part of my lifestyle. Like we listen to different genres of music or indulge in different types of cuisine, I did different forms of Yoga. On this International Yoga Day, June 21, I wanted to set yoga free from its poor and limiting stereotyping, and share a glimpse of amazing new and cool types of yoga, I found around the world.
1. Glow Yoga
Glow Yoga is nothing but regular yoga with maybe fluorescent pants, stickers, glow stick wristbands, maybe slightly louder or faster music, a tad bit faster flow. It is a combination of workout and partying and a good one at that. Just like Zumba perfectly combined dance and partying to deliver a perfect workout form, Glow Yoga hits the nail perfectly on the physical workout, mental zen, and social fun. If anyone ever tells you that Yoga is boring, tell them about Glow Yoga which is even more fun than the club party you'd ever attend.
Summer 2016, I signed up for a Friday at 8:30 pm Glow Yoga class in Minneapolis. The instructions asked us to wear fluorescent clothes and accessories. The studio was blasting Rihanna, from the ceiling hung a clublight, and the floor shined with sparkle. Dozen of exhilarating faces filled the space. I was in some nightclub. The Indian in me felt a little blasphemous. I rolled my eyes and thought "annoying western shenanigans". This was not proper, not yoga, till the class started, I moved through the sequences, sweated an entire bucket, and felt amazing zen. This was the best yoga class "ever". In the years to come, shedding my judgemental skin, I attended countless glow yoga/ party yoga classes across the US. Come Halloween or New Years Eve, and I looked forward to a glow yoga part
2. Candlelight Yoga
Candlelight yoga could be fast and power yoga style or super slow and yin. You can sweat to a cardio-intensive sequence or lift your body weight in amazing inversions or stretch your muscles to a deeper relaxation. The class can be anything based on the teachers' plan and her read of the class energy. The consistent theme though is inward exploration, a withdrawal from outward sensations, and a close to the days' ruminations. Candlelight classes are typically towards the end of the day, right before bedtime, often assisted by Aromatic essential oil diffusers, some beautiful chants or poetry, and guided meditation.
Imagine a perfect romantic date with your loved one, imagine a soft candle-lit fine dining restaurant, imagine a great bottle of red wine and mild jazz music, and you have set the mood for a perfect candle-lit yoga class. Except for instead of a restaurant its a yoga studio, instead of food its a great workout, and instead of your loved one, it's time to love your own self. Candlelight yoga class is nothing but an amazing date with self.
3. Acro Yoga
Well, here is a yoga form where you can literally fly. I still recall the first time, someone offered to fly me. A yoga teacher in our studio, Sasha laid down on a foam floor mat, placed his legs in an L sit and asked me to "trust fall" into a bird pose. Three years later, I seek to base beginners into their very first birds to vicariously feel the same happiness and glee of the first flight that I once felt.
The most common inhibition to attempting Acro Yoga is "too tough, too complicated, what if I fall, not for me" till you realize how simple, easy, and enabling it is to trust fall on somebody. Three years of acro practice hasn't just made me a stronger person, but a truly better person with a better understanding of important life values like teams, togetherness, and trust.
Have you ever taken a young child in your arms and raised her up in the air like a trophy or flew him on your feet? Have you noticed the gleaming smile on their face as you do so? Every other superhero from Marvel or DC universe possessing the power to fly stands witness human fascination with flight and sense of freedom and adventure associated with it.
4. Aerial Yoga
Continuing on the flight theme from Acro is another fantastic form of Yoga called Aerial Yoga. Aerial yoga combines poses from traditional yoga, pilates as well as dance to create a flow that helps relax the body and mind in a unique way. It is performed on a special hammock apparatus that provides a soft surface to support the body. Aerial gives a wondrous feeling of suspension, flying, free from the pressures of gravity, and support in advanced inversion or back-bend yoga poses.
Eventually, an aerial flow is nothing short of a dextrous acrobatic dance which is a pure beauty to watch. If you are scared to try Aerial, do at least try to watch an aerial performance in a studio around you and maybe you will change your mind.
5. Buti Yoga
Do you love to feel really sexy and hot? Do you love to dance? What is the probability of finding you in an LBD (little black dress) in a nightclub twerking to the latest Beyonce number. But Yoga is for you. Buti rhyming with Booty yoga is a mixture of tribal dance and deep core engagement. If you thought, glow yoga is party yoga, try a Buti Yoga class and you will skip your Sunburn or Coachella plans.
It is probably one of the most recent forms of yoga that I have come across and practiced, starting sometimes around 2016-17 by celebrity trainer Bizzie Gold. It almost coincides with the return of twerking and the new wave of the feminist movement in the US, designing a whole new form of yoga focused on feminine energy and its expressions of fluidity and sexy. Fast, groovy, sweaty, sassy, Buti Yoga is definitely the form your parents told you to stay away from.
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