Warrior pose can be difficult enough without the weight of a dog resting on your knee. But that’s exactly how Doga, a new pet-friendly form of yoga, is keeping yogis at play. Yoga has long been a source of stress relief and also a way to increase flexibility and body awareness. And now, more than ever, creative new styles are emerging that fulfill any particular fancy. Want to hit lotus pose while in swim trunks? Dive into Aqua Yoga. Prefer to hit the mat to a hip-hop soundtrack? There’s a class for that. Read on for some seriously outside-the-box forms of yoga to breathe new life into your weekly exercise routine.
Yoga isn’t just a solo act anymore. AcroYoga is a dynamic mix of yoga and acrobatics, all done with the help of a partner. Generally, one practitioner remains ground-based to provide a firm platform while the other partner performs a series of aerial exercises (check out DailyBurn’s Briohny Smyth and her husband performing together in this breathtaking routine for Equinox). AcroYoga is also believed to help improve communication, as both partners must work together to ensure safety and success. Worried about holding someone balanced in midair? Don’t be. Instructors reinforce that technique matters more than strength in this yoga form. Most studios can also match up participants without partners, so anyone who’s ready and able can dive right in. To find a class near you, visit acroyoga.org, which includes listings at a variety of studios around the world.
2. Aqua Yoga
Looking for a relaxation method that requires nothing more than a bathing suit? Jump on in. As the name suggests, aqua yoga takes traditional yoga moves to the pool. Since the water removes much of the impact, this yoga form is a favorite among pregnant women, older individuals and those prone to injury. The water also enables participants to strike poses that would otherwise be too difficult on dry land. Though aqua yoga hasn’t made its way into most commercial gyms, curious yogis can look into class offerings at their local aquatic center or specialty studios to get their feet wet.
Can’t bear leaving a furry friend at home? Doga, a dog-friendly style of yoga, allows participants to fit their practice in while offering Fido some relaxation as well. Many of the poses get dogs in on the action — like warrior pose with your dog resting on your knee, or backbends with some extra love perched on your belly. Don’t think your canine will be into chaturangas on command? Treats are used to encourage dogs to change poses throughout the class. Just keep in mind that since the trend is only just beginning to take off, instructors won’t have any special certifications to teach the class, though recommendations can be found through your local Humane Society or SPCA.
4. Hip-Hop Yoga
Afraid of missing a beat? Not with this yoga variation. Hip-Hop Yoga originated in South Jamaica, Queens as a way to connect a community to the age-old relaxation method. By using popular music, instructors are able to increase participation, particularly among at-risk kids. The result is a cool and contemporary practice that puts participants in touch with their mind and body. Variations have since popped up in cities across the country, including Black Light Hip-Hop Yoga in at Back Bay Yoga Studio in Boston.
5. Aerial Yoga
Don’t let gravity hold you down. This high-flying variation uses soft hammocks to provide a mix of support and resistance — and the ability to get air born. Since participants don’t have their weight bearing down on them, aerial yoga promises less body stress and muscle tension — perfect for participants that need a bit of decompression in their spine and joints. Classes in suspension yoga, aerial silks, or AntiGravity yoga (as its also known) can be found at select commercial gyms (Crunch and Life Time Fitness included) and at specialty studios such as Om Factory in New York.
6. Yoga Fight Club
When it’s time to release some pent up aggression, Yoga Fight Club provides the perfect combination of “om” and “oomph.” Created by OM Factory in New York, this unique class blends the fluidity of Vinyasa yoga with the intensity of kickboxing. After some challenging flow sequences help warm the body up, a series of dynamic drills and techniques (mostly with gloves and pads) help build form, speed and cardio endurance. The result: a kick-butt workout that’s equal parts calming and tough.
7. Pre and Postnatal Yoga
For those expecting, prenatal yoga is safe and serene way to decrease stress while maintaining strength and flexibility. Sticking with a regular yoga routine can keep the core strong to help alleviate back pain while pregnant; it might even help moms bounce back quicker post-pregnancy. Transitioning to postnatal yoga, which focuses on movement sequences that help rebuild flexibility and mobility, can also encourage a deeper mother-child bond. Pre and postnatal yoga classes can be found in most major cities (always consult with your doctor before getting started). And when comfort and convenience are key, consider an at-home program or app. Featuring DailyBurn’s expert yogi Briohny Smyth, Beautiful Belly takes expecting mothers through a series of pre and postnatal yoga routines, filmed over the course of Briohny’s own pregnancy.
Did we leave out one of your favorite outside-the-box styles of yoga? Let us know in the comments below!