It used to be so easy. Just Namaste and call it a day. Now the ancient Eastern practice of spiritual, physical and mental exercise has twisted like a pretzel into new — and, ahem, highly unconventional — forms. (We’re talking waaay beyond Hot Stone Yoga.) Maybe one of these five classes will earn your welcome mat. And, as always, consult a professional first.
1. Goat Yoga
No kidding. Goat Yoga, which originated in 2017 on a farm in Oregon, allows the docile animals to mingle freely with posing guests. Snuggles are common, as is a goat standing on the back of someone doing a downward dog. The result is a therapeutic and lighthearted effect. Now 200 goat yoga classes with long waiting lists are available from Colorado to Florida to New Jersey. But don’t buy the farm on this trend yet: In April, $40 pop-up classes in a Brooklyn warehouse-like space were canceled due to concerns from the Health Department. (goatyoga.net)
2. Paddleboard Yoga
You can’t walk on water, but you can meditate on it. For Stand-Up Paddleboard Yoga, also known as SUP, yogis strike a pose on a plastic board instead of a mat on open water. Stretching and balancing on the wobbly surface adds to the intensity of the exercise and tightens up your midsection in the process — and, as a special bonus, allows for a deeper sense of calm. (One fan has described SUP as doing yoga during “a slight earthquake.”) If this doesn’t whet your appetite, several gyms offer indoor classes — solid-ground landings included. (cityfitgirls.com/blog/city-guide-sup-yoga)
3. Naked Yoga
Yup, this is a thing. Willow Merveille, the founder of Naked in Motion yoga studios in New York City and Boston, has raved that baring all promotes a body-positive image and helps students shed feelings of inadequacy and shame. In a typical coed $15 class, attendees are required to strip down (though women may leave on their underpants). Flirting or “cruising” is also forbidden, which enables a safe space. And to answer your next question, men are given specific instructions if they get an erection. Otherwise, the class is business as usual — and, ahem, a standing split is part of the repertoire of poses. (nakedinmotion.com)
4. Aerial Yoga
Get ready to let your mantras take flight in an Aerial Yoga class. Here’s how it works: You sit on a silky, high-density hammock that resembles the scarf Sharon Stone used in bed in Basic Instinct. (Fun!) Then you do traditional poses or aerial modifications of the poses, using the hammock as support. The freedom of movement leads to benefits such as greater flexibility, better focus and strengthened muscles because you’re engaging your core muscles to the extreme. If you hate heights, no worries: You’re only about three feet above the ground and can adjust the verticality. (aerialyoga.com)
5. Laughter Yoga
Did you hear the one about the hysterical exercise class? During Laughter Yoga, students partake in a series of exercises — such as swiveling your hips, hula hoop-style — with the express purpose of inducing the giggles. During one class, yogis even marched around the studio to the tune of “I’ve Been Working on the Railroad.” Laughter, even fake laughter, promotes the use of deep breathing that helps relax the body and mind. The childlike behavior can also relieve pain, reduce stress and even boost your immunity system. Seriously. (laughteryoga.org)
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