The rise of modern yoga has paved the way for hybrid variations that range from playful and fun, to weird and wacky.
There’s “doga” – a blend of dog and yoga – where you’re more likely to cradle your pet dog than bend into a downward-facing dog.
Then, of course, there’s the marketing genius of goat yoga, for those who simply want to kid around.
You might test your acrobatic skills in an anti-gravity yoga class. Or, perhaps challenge your mates to beer and wine yoga, if an after-office tipple is more your style.
According to Roy Morgan Research, yoga is the country’s fastest-growing fitness activity, doubling in popularity in the past decade – with one in 10 Australians striking a pose in 2016.
Though traditional yoga is still common, Yoga Australia says an increasing number of instructors and students are seeking to combine yoga with other activities that they are passionate about.
Here are some of the best.
Walking the dog becoming a chore? Doga, or yoga with dogs, is less about achieving the perfect pose and more about connecting with your four-legged friend.
Fitness instructor Adele Rancan, from Sydney’s lower north shore, started running doga classes after completing a course in the US and adapting the moves to suit clients.
“Smaller dogs can participate in held poses such tree pose, warrior poses, boat pose.”
“Larger dogs will stay close and connected, with one hand placed on the dog as support,” Ms Rancan said.
“On occasions we use dog-friendly doga music – this is music composed specifically attuned to a dog’s sensitive hearing and to help calm them down.”
Goat (and lamb) yoga
Arguably the most quirky fusion is yoga with goats or lambs. These affectionate and playful farmyard animals wander about the paddock and often relax on the mat as yogis stretch and twist into poses.
Possum Valley Animal Sanctuary, in Mount Helena, Western Australia, started running the yoga classes in 2017, initially as a quirky way to raise money for the rescue farm animals.
“Many of Possum Valley’s goats have come to reside with us after being found orphaned, ill or injured or confiscated by authorities from less than ideal homes,” the rescue charity’s vice-president Mark Hayman said.
“Our volunteers and visitors care for them, show respect and kindness. In turn they begin to trust us and other people.”
At the beginning of each session, participants are introduced to the goats and lambs, and instructors share some of the rescue stories.
“The sequence incorporates a variety of yoga styles and finishes with savasana and meditation,” Mr Hayman said.
“On completion of the session, you will get to spend some time playing and cuddling with the goats and lambs.”
AntiGravity Yoga, also known as aerial yoga, uses a soft trapeze-like hammock for a whole mind and body workout while relieving pressure from certain joints.
Yoga instructor Inge Sildnik, who owns the Eliit Therapies studio in Galston, NSW, said the hammocks support individuals as they slide into postures that are normally not possible during mat or floor exercise.
Part yoga, part circus act, aerial yoga may be helpful if you suffer tight muscles or want to improve strength, or simply looking for a fun way to get off the floor.
No special skills or fitness levels are required, Ms Sildnik said. Just an open mind, playful nature and good listening skills.
“We have 15 year olds to 75 year olds participating in our classes.”
“We always recommend starting with a beginners class and wearing form fitting clothes,” she said.
Beer or wine yoga
Whether you call it “boga”, “woga” or simply “drunk yoga”, this workout trend has been popular in Berlin, London and New York City for a while. Now it’s a bonafide thing in Australia.
Liz Eales, from Yoga Fix in Mackay in Queensland, started running boga classes on Friday nights earlier this year.
She said it was a fun way to unwind and catch up with friends, especially for people who have not tried yoga before.
“The session includes one hour of yoga practice in which you can sip on your coldie and maybe even find some muscles that have been hiding for a while,” Ms Eales told The Daily Mercury.
Though mixing wine with vinyasa is fast becoming a popular social event, not everyone is fully on board.
“There is strong evidence now supporting the many benefits of yoga. While most are harmless, there are inherent risks to combining alcohol with yoga practice,” a Yoga Australia spokesman said.
“Alcohol dramatically affects the quality of coherence, consciousness and clarity of mind. This is the very opposite of what yoga practice intends to do.”
But devotees say wine yoga is all in the name of fun and not to be taken too seriously. After all, happiness is also the gateway to better health.
You could also try …
- SUP yoga: test your balance and stability with yoga on a stand-up paddle board over water
- Laughter yoga: a series of playful exercises including clapping and body movements to encourage voluntary laughter.
- Nude yoga: do we really need to explain this one?