The Next Yoga Level: 5 Variations You Never Knew Existed
There are a lot of different Yoga variations. So many that people new to this area have some head-scratching moments trying to decide which is best for them. This decision is often compounded by rivalry between the ‘camps’. When two or more different styles are considered the ‘true’ system, disputes can easily follow.
This page is not one for the purists, in fact it is the opposite.
Here I have covered 5 variations that you will not normally find in lists of Yoga variations at all. Each one comes with a short explanation. With the current boom in popularity, and that human spirit which is always seeking new and innovative ways to exercise – I would not be surprised to find myself back here adding more examples soon.
Yoga Variation #1 – Suspension Yoga
Balance and body weight are key factors in all traditional yoga formats. How about taking this idea to a new level and including poses which require participants being suspended. You are suspended on a silk swing, which can be used in different ways depending on the pose.
One advantage of suspension Yoga is that inversions are easier. With your weight supported by the swing, going upside-down becomes a breeze. This allows for poses which are simply not possible on your mat.
This format can be called ‘Ariel Yoga’ or even ‘Anti-Gravity Yoga’ in some studios.
Yoga Variation #2 – Pre-Natal Yoga
Fans of prenatal Yoga claim two (linked) benefits of this format. First, you’ll be able to prepare for the birth itself. Breathing and relaxation techniques are key here. Second, it is a great way for expectant mothers to stay in shape. More vigorous exercises can become more of a challenge, and Yoga makes an ideal candidate to fill the gap.
Some added advantages come from reducing lower back pain, and even improving sleep.
A typical session moves from breathing to stretching, then into different poses. You need specialist instruction here, as many poses will need to be modified or even avoided altogether. Which trimester you are in is a critical factor.
Yoga Variation #3 – Aqua Yoga
While many new forms of Yoga aim to make things more extreme or intense – aqua Yoga does the opposite. Here the water will provide natural buoyancy, making many poses feel gentle and relaxing. There are many specially adapted poses to try in a shallow pool. Obviously many traditional poses will not work this way.
Some poses include the use of foam tubes, which aid suspension.
I should note that this is not the same idea as combining Yoga with SCUBA diving! There are some benefits, especially when it comes to training your breathing and relaxing – though doing the down-dog on the bottom of the sea is not recommended!
Yoga Variation #4 – Extreme Yoga
This is the entry most likely to have the Yoga purists hot under the collar. Taking Yoga poses and turning them into demonstrations of extreme flexibility is nothing new. The popularity of InstaGram and Snapchat has given a new outlet for showing your moves to the world.
Trying many of the most extreme poses is dangerous – especially for those who are not even supple enough for the regular positions. By all means share them and be amazed, though please: ‘don’t try this at home’.
Yoga Variation #5 – Naked Yoga
If after reading this title you have visions of muscular hunks or slim and beautifully toned women posing in the buff – then you might need to think again. Sure, naturism and naked activities are a lot more prevalent than they would have been 20 years ago. The thing to keep in mind is that the average person letting it all hang out is likely to be middle-aged – and will not always be the sporty types! Now, many regular formats of yoga are performed naked, it was a tradition for 100’s of years (Bikram springs to mind). The new trend is to do this in groups.
With that (hopefully) carefully worded disclaimer out of the way, letting go of the constraints of clothing, and posing as nature would want it is becoming popular. I’ll leave you to discreetly Google it (using a private browser session of course!).
Yoga Variations – Summing Up
There are even more candidates for this list, though the 5 above should be more than enough for most of us. Mini-Yoga, which is yoga-like activities combined with play for children, is gaining some momentum. Aside from your average Bikram hot yoga, there are even more extreme variations appearing here too. Over the pond in the US, weed yoga and even yoga with animal friends like bunnies and even goats are becoming a thing… personally, I’m not so sure goat yoga will take off in the UK!
If you know of an entertaining and / or innovative variation on the regular Yoga routine, I’d be happy to hear about it. You can contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org
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