While yoga holds deep, traditional roots, individuals have found new and interesting ways to put a fun and unique spin on this longstanding meditational practice. From laughter yoga to dog yoga and many more styles, there are a number of non-traditional forms of yoga to choose from in today’s practice. Let’s take a look at some of those innovative yoga styles and what they entail.
Laughter yoga is a form of yoga that can exercise the mind, the body, and the sense of humor. Created in India in the mid-1990s as a social experiment, laughter yoga is still a successful social practice. Modern practitioners have cut down on the complexity of the practice and made it easily accessible to anyone interested in joining a community of laughter. Its premise sits on the idea that the body can laugh, regardless of the mind. If you don’t think you’ve got a funny bone, you may be surprised. In laughter yoga, you laugh for no reason, in a model of “fake it till you make it.” Laughter is said to strengthen immunity, increase oxygen in the body, increase mood, and improve interpersonal skills. Laughter releases endorphins that can help improve an individual’s overall mood all day long, as well as benefit their social interactions.
Aerial yoga is becoming very popular. It’s an acrobatic type of yoga that can help strengthen and stretch the body without putting excess pressure on joints. But one doesn’t have to be an acrobat to get started. Much of aerial yoga is performed in a supportive hammock. Although it does not focus as much on breathing techniques, aerial yoga can be seen as more of a combination of practices such as yoga, dance, and Pilates. Movements may be easier to perform while suspended, and stretching can be accentuated in ways not possible on the ground. This type of yoga provides a total body workout that improves flexibility and balance, and can also boost confidence, lower stress, and support one’s emotional well-being.
Lovingly referred to as “Doga” by some, this form of yoga combines massage, meditation, and stretching alongside man’s best friend. Participants and their canine partners combine common yoga poses, and the human partner helps their meditative mutt gently move into stretching poses. In other classes, it is more human-focused and the dogs are simply moral supporters in their human’s efforts. These classes can support dogs of any size, and classes vary greatly in style and focus. Doga can help build the bond of trust and increase communication between owners and their four-legged family members.
For those who feel ready to brave their yoga practice in the buff, naked yoga is here to serve that need. Naked yoga is picking up in popularity, and many yoga studios and private clubs are beginning to offer up these classes. There are many reasons that naked yoga may be enticing, but one main goal is to improve body image and increase acceptance of the body in its natural state. These classes are often co-ed, and they center around liberation and free movement, unrestrained by clothes or personal insecurities. Rooms are often dimmed so that students feel less exposed, and everyone is asked to bring their own yoga mat.
Not to be confused with lucid dreaming, dream yoga was developed to help people find their connection with the world and turn sleep into an opportunity to meditate. Instead of lucid dreaming, the dreamer begins to train their mind to “wake up” within a dream and maintain awareness even while asleep. The progression starts with remembering dreams, then learning how to wake up within them, then training the mind within the dream to stay awake and aware. This is said to help students wake up in a spiritual sense and incorporate sleeping and dreaming into their meditative practice.