Hundreds of studios exist in the little island of Manhattan alone. Within those studios, a varied mélange of classes are offered: From Bikram to prenatal to antigravity yoga, there's something for everyone to enjoy.
And by everyone, we mean everyone. As in, the dog-lover who can't part from his beloved pooch for more than an hour. Or, the bookworm who has read the entire "Harry Potter" series -- 20 times over.
Yes, there's a yoga class for every soul. See five of these more unconventional types below, then tell us which you might try in the comments.
David Romanelli has found a way to tickle the senses of the food-loving-yogi by designing a class that incorporates -- yup, you guessed it -- food and yoga. Romanelli calls his mission "yoga for the Everyman," working to make the ancient practice accessible for everyone.
“The world is a better place if people do yoga. And if they come because chocolate or wine is involved, I’m fine with it," he recently told The New York Times. After the yoga class, the participants are taught to enjoy and appreciate a delicious meal of "slow food" with the same awareness they used on the mat just minutes before.
Yes, it's exactly what it sounds like: This practice involves you, your mat and your furry friend. The canine-centric yoga class first made headlines in 2009, and the atypical workout has been gaining popularity ever since. Can't picture it? According to The New York Times, it's more than a simple downward dog:
Doga combines massage and meditation with gentle stretching for dogs and their human partners. In chaturanga, dogs sit with their front paws in the air while their human partners provide support. In an “upward-paw pose,” or sun salutation, owners lift dogs onto their hind legs. In a resting pose, the person reclines, with legs slightly bent over the dog’s torso, bolster-style, to relieve pressure on the spine.
Harry Potter Yoga
OK, so these moves may not differ too drastically from your basic vinyasa poses (and we can't promise magic), but they do correspond with a wizardly charm -- which should entice any Harry Potter
nerd lover. Cheryl Crawford, co-founder of Grounded, explains over on Rebelle Society how to match your motion to individual charms to feel the full effect . Here's a taste:
Pose: Wake Up Mountain
Stand with your feet parallel and evenly rooted to prepare for Wake Up Mountain. Exhale as you reach up high with outstretched hands and take hold of Universal energy. Inhale and pull the power into your core. Each time you exhale, stretch out higher. Each time you inhale, bend your elbows and pull in deeper. Visualize the movement of energy around and inside your body. Accelerate your breath to accelerate your movement. Then decelerate your breath to slow your movement. When your movement follows your breath, you feel more alive. Inhale Rennervate, exhale Wake Up!
Indo Board Yoga
If you're intrigued by the SUP Yoga craze but haven't had a chance to make it to the beach, this might just be the alternative for you. The Indo Board brings the balance, strength and flexibility the stand-up paddleboard requires to an in-studio setting, making it accessible for everyone (even those who can't swim!). And the board is also versatile as a workout tool, as it supports weight-bearing exercises.
Yoga In The Buff
Outfitting for class may be part of the fun of yoga, but the practice has existed long before the emergence of Lululemon -- and the brand's infamous stretchy pant. Nagna -- or naked -- yoga dates back to ancient times, when nudity was practiced to reject material aspects of life. Gymnosophists, which are "naked philosophers," refer to ancient Indian philosophers who practiced a lifestyle of abstinence -- some of whom relinquished life pleasures like food and clothing. Yoga in the buff began to gain popularity in the U.S. in the 1960s as part of the hippie movement. Even now, it's not hard to find these kinds of classes around the country.
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It's a bird ... it's a plane ... it's -- yoga, in a suspended hammock? Antigravity Yoga (also referred to as Suspension Yoga, Upside-Down Yoga and Aerial Yoga) is not for the faint of heart. The practice incorporates traditional yoga poses mixed with acrobatics in a silk hammock suspended from the ceiling. What are the benefits of yoga off the ground? Kayda Norman, <a href="http://news.health.com/2012/08/07/aerial-yoga-learning-to-fly/" target="_hplink">who documented her Aerial Yoga experience for Health.com</a> writes, "Aerial yoga allows you to stretch further and hold positions longer than other types of yoga. Suspension yoga also helps to decompress tight joints and relieve pressure." Alexandra Sifferlin, a reporter for <em>Time</em>, <a href="http://healthland.time.com/2012/08/22/we-tried-this-aerial-vinyasa-or-upside-down-yoga/" target="_hplink">also shared her go with a Suspension Yoga class</a>. She <a href="http://healthland.time.com/2012/08/22/we-tried-this-aerial-vinyasa-or-upside-down-yoga/" target="_hplink">reported in a video of her experience</a> that the aerial class was helpful for "better controlled movements as you strengthen your core muscles." And for those without the strength and control for traditional inversions like headstands, Aerial Yoga gives us a chance to try these out.
Tantrum Yoga can help you access your inner child: the grumpy one, who needs to throw a tantrum to get back to center. It isn't violent; instead, it's an outlet -- a release -- that combines traditional yoga poses, dancing and, yes, some yelling. <a href="http://www.hemalayaa.com/" target="_hplink">Yoga teacher Hemalaaya </a>developed this therapeutic kind of yoga as the next step in her fusion-focused classes. And, as <a href="http://www.hemalayaa.com/?p=1629" target="_hplink">she puts it</a>, throwing a little tantrum works to relieve her own frustrations. She encourages her students to release stress by yelling, chest-pounding and laughing. "I believe we are emotional beings and there are times we need to express in order to let go of emotion, especially old stuff that is sitting in there, festering. Otherwise it gets stuck in our bodies and could turn into stress, disease, etc." she told <a href="http://abclocal.go.com/kabc/story?section=news/food_coach&id=8666290" target="_hplink">ABC News</a>.
Perhaps it is Wheelchair Yoga that best demonstrates the versatility of the yoga practice. Many of the actions performed in Wheelchair Yoga (or, similarly Chair Yoga) are traditional poses adapted for those who are in wheelchairs. The <a href="http://www.livestrong.com/article/319124-yoga-exercises-for-someone-in-a-wheelchair/" target="_hplink">Cat Stretch, Cow Pose and Eagle Pose</a>, for example, have all been modified to be performed while sitting. Chair Yoga prioritizes breath-work and physical postures and can be incredibly beneficial for those with limited mobility. The activity can help to <a href="http://www.ncpad.org/disability/fact_sheet.php?sheet=345&view=all" target="_hplink">decrease physical pain and tension</a> and it promotes the many benefits of physical activity to those with disabilities might not otherwise have access.
Harmonica Yoga is a form of Raja Yoga (yoga for both the body and the mind). Harmonica playing and yoga are both based on the control of the breath, making this a fun way to work on mindfulness. "Harmonica is the easiest and most accessible way to practice breath control," <a href="http://www.davidharp.com/" target="_hplink">David Harp</a>, the founder and originator of <a href="http://www.amazon.com/s/ref=ntt_athr_dp_sr_1?_encoding=UTF8&field-author=David Harp&ie=UTF8&search-alias=books&sort=relevancerank" target="_hplink">HarmonicaYoga™</a> and HuffPost blogger wrote in an email to The Huffington Post. "This allows practitioners to short-circuit mental patterns such as fight or flight responses, and thus develop mindfulness," he continued.
If laughter is the best medicine and yoga touts countless health benefits, the combination of the two must be infallible. In this silly practice (its founder, Sebastien Gendry, <a href="ttp://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/05/06/laughter-yoga-benefits_n_1478960.html" target="_hplink">called it "bizarre" and "weird"</a>) you might find yourself clapping joyously, milking imaginary cows and pretending to be a lion, just as <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/05/06/laughter-yoga-benefits_n_1478960.html" target="_hplink">Catherine Pearson did in her Laughter Yoga class, as she reported</a> in HuffPost's Healthy Living. Laughter Yoga incorporates much less of the physical aspects of yoga and much more of the social and mindful aspects. Still, the physical benefits are not completely lost: laughter has been found to <a href="http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16652129" target="_hplink">burn calories </a> and <a href="http://care.diabetesjournals.org/content/26/5/1651.full" target="_hplink">lower blood sugar levels</a>.
Karaoke Yoga, developed by Los Angeles-based yoga instructor <a href="http://jenniferpastiloff.com/" target="_hplink">Jennifer Pastiloff</a>, gives people the opportunity to stretch their limbs <em>and</em> their vocal chords. The class is equipped with a TV screen to display song lyrics and, luckily for those with stage fright, there are no solo performances. You can expect to sing along with the whole class to songs from Adele, Elton John and Journey. The focus of the class is joy, not the perfecting of poses. "It's not about alignment, it's about connecting to your joy," Pasiloff <a href="http://abclocal.go.com/kabc/story?section=news/food_coach&id=8713322" target="_hplink">said in an ABC News interview</a>. Though not about the yoga, per se, it's still about the workout: "It's longer exhales, it's sweating, dancing," she insists. Pasiloff wrote in a<a href="http://www.mindbodygreen.com/0-5085/What-the-Heck-Is-Karaoke-Yoga.html" target="_hplink"> blog post for <em>Mind Body Green,</em></a>"It is connecting some of the greatest pleasures I know of in life: dancing, singing, yoga, connecting and good old fashioned rock 'n' roll."
Yoga Raves bring the yoga studio to the club -- so don't forget your glow sticks (and glitter). Combining music, movement and meditation in a single space, Yoga Raves also promote drug-free fun. Many of these raves begin with a guided meditation as a warm up, to lead into a more free movement. According to the not-for-profit movement's website <a href="http://Yoga Rave" target="_hplink">Yogarave.org</a>, "The Yoga Rave Project will bring the spiritual element back to celebration and the way we have fun, offering a drug free alternative for our youth to gather and release their energy and tension." <a href="http://www.artofliving.org/us-en" target="_hplink">The Art Of Living Foundation</a>, which funds and organizes <a href="http://Yogaraves.org" target="_hplink">Yogaraves.org</a>, is not the only initiative propelling the yoga dance party. <a href="http://www.jivamuktiyoga.com/" target="_hplink">Jivamukti</a> and <a href="http://www.laughinglotus.com/" target="_hplink">Laughing </a>Lotus are among the yoga schools supporting the combination of yoga and "getting down." <a href="http://www.yogadork.com/news/grab-your-glow-ga-sticks-yoga-raves-all-the-rage/" target="_hplink">Yogadork.com might have said it best:</a> "The Yoga Rave: a place where you can totally trip out drug free, get friendly with your fellow man/woman and wake up in your own bed the next morning (if you so choose)."
The World's Oldest Yoga Teacher
And just for fun, here's a video of <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/05/14/tao-porchon-lynch-93-worlds-oldest-yoga-teacher_n_1515579.html" target="_hplink">the world's oldest yoga teacher</a>, 93-year-old Tao Porchon-Lynch, showing off all she's got.
Seane Corn on The Benefits of Vinyasa Yoga
Yoga instructor Seane Corn explains the benefits of Vinyasa yoga.