If you feel like every time you refresh Instagram, there’s a new type of yoga out there, you’re not alone. Over the past few years, the number of regular yoga practitioners has grown exponentially, with the latest national study showing that 36.7 million Americans will be getting their Warrior on in 2016 compared to just 20.4 million in 2012. And as the yogi population grows, so does the number of classes that are cropping up to cater to them. Think: yoga with animals, yoga to dubstep and more.
Why the rise in out-there trends? “Yoga as an industry is growing and people are starting to get creative with, ‘What else can we do?’” says Amy Apgar, a New York City-based yoga teacher at Prana Power Yoga who also teaches cat yoga in the city. (Yup, cat yoga.) “There’s a novelty aspect for sure, but if that brings someone into a class who might not normally have wanted to try it, that’s great.”
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Whether you’re a seasoned yogi who loves your Vinyasa flow or just want to mix up your routine, here are a few fun, new approaches that might be worth trying.
4 Types of Yoga to Mix Things Up on Your Mat
1. Animal Yoga
Yup, yoga is going to the cats and dogs. Doga, offered at studios around the country including Austin Doga in Texas and BKS Yoga in Naples, FL, is all about increasing the connection between you and your pooch. You’ll massage your pup while practicing gentle poses — but don’t expect an intense sweat session.
The same goes for Cat Yoga classes, like those offered by Apgar at the New York City cat café, Meow Parlour. You’ll move through your flow with cats as bystanders running around, snuggling up to students, and watching the poses that are taking place. “No one’s there for a super intense workout or a spiritual experience,” Apgar says. “It’s just fun and funny. Plus, there’s the added challenge of balancing in a pose with a cat running around at your feet.” The animal classes don’t stop with cats and dogs, either. Now, even equine yoga — posing on top of a horse! — is a thing.
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2. Yoga Raves
Dubstep and downward dog? It’s an unlikely combination, but one that’s gaining followers thanks to events like Daybreaker, a substance-free morning rave that kicks off with yoga. Other classes, such as Glowga, are set to loud, chanting music. Darkened rooms lit with glow sticks set the scene with a vibe that is more club-like than it is spiritual (although some could argue the two are one and the same).
Sound Off Yoga takes a silent disco approach to the practice, with yogis wearing headphones while they flow. While these kinds of classes might require an open mind for those accustomed to getting their “om” on in less beats-heavy environments, they may also offer a boost of energy and motivation comparable to a cardio session.
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3. Aerial Yoga
Who needs a mat? Christopher Harrison, a former Broadway dancer, dreamed up AntiGravity Yoga, where participants perform movements in a hammock suspended above the ground. Meanwhile, the chiropractor-owned studio Aligned Brooklyn takes a slightly different approach to helping you achieve liftoff, using its Great Wall (and a harness) to suspend participants above the floor as they perform standing poses. This trend has some scientific weight to support it, too. A recent study from The American Council on Exercise found that aerial yoga may help improve cardiorespiratory fitness and lower blood pressure.
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4. Yoga For, Well, Anything
There’s truly a type of yoga for everyone these days. Ganja Yoga, aka yoga for those with a medical marijuana card? Yep, that exists. As does coed naked yoga, SUP yoga, hip-hop yoga and laughter yoga (a mix of yoga breathing techniques and laughing exercises). The newest take: 305 Fitness’ upcoming class “Yoga 4 Better X.” What exactly is that elusive X? “You can define and achieve your own X, whatever that X is to you,” says Shira Atkins, the “Yoga 4 Better X Program Director” at 305 Fitness. “Our classes will be geared toward specific Xs such as sense, feel, body and sex, [but] it is ultimately up to you to find your own X.” Atkins says that the class is “equal parts dance and yoga” with feel-good music from artists like Martin Solveig.
And let’s just say we bet more types of yoga will pop up before you can say ‘savasana.’ And while the workout quality might be questionable for some, they all offer up a major fun factor that might be worth a shot, if only for the crazy Instagram pics.