Yoga isn’t just about downward facing dog and child’s pose on your mat. If you’re a little bit like me and like to spice things up from time to time, here are five ways you can practice yoga differently.
Stand up paddle yoga is one of the most challenging forms of yoga I’ve ever tried, but also one of the most blissful when comes Shavasana time (relaxation pose usually held at the end of the practice for a few minutes of meditation). Lying down on your board, soaking in the sun and floating on the water is somehow magical.
I would highly recommend trying SUP yoga to experience how completely different your sense of balance might be on your mat and on the board. I myself fell not once, not twice, but three times on the exact same pose (Trikonasana or extended triangle pose), which I have no issue with on my mat.
There is a sense of peace when practising yoga outside in nature, but practising on the water is just a whole other level of amazing.
Brisbane friends, I recommend checking out Kat Harding‘s classes on the Noosa River, on the Sunshine Coast. You won’t be disappointed!
Antigravity or Aerial yoga
If you love being upside down, or have always wanted to join the circus, this one is for you. Antigravity yoga will take your body places you didn’t even know it could (or wanted to) go.
Thanks to the support of a very sturdy but soft hammock, you will be able to do stretches or poses you wouldn’t normally be able to achieve, or take them further. I have recently loved trying standing splits with my leg wrapped in the hammock, which enables me to lift my leg so much higher than with the strength of my muscles.
One of the best parts of antigravity yoga also lies in the spinal decompression you get from being upside down, arms lying on the floor. The rush of blood to your head takes some getting used to, but is oh so worth it!
Shavasana and relaxation is also the most beautiful experience when you’re lying tightly wrapped in a hammock, feeling like you’re floating in the air.
Brisbane friends, I highly recommend Yoga Box. I attend the West End studio and can’t speak highly enough of them! They hold regular yoga classes (including power, hot yoga, yin, and plenty of workshops) as well as antigravity.
Acro yoga is a great way to have fun, work on your balance and built trust with your partner (whether friend or lover), and doesn’t necessarily require previous yoga experience. You can take turns being base and flyer (I pride myself in having once lifted a quite a heavy and muscular man at a yoga festival – it’s all about balance, not strength).
There are hundreds of YouTube videos on the basics of acro yoga (this one is perfect to start), they are a great way to spend a sunny day in the park. I’ve practiced at a few workshops and festivals (featured image is me trying acro for the very first time with Matt Worley at the Byron Bay yoga festival), and then just took my mat (and my boyfriend) to the nearest park. It’s always safer to have a third person watching you at first, so they can catch the flyer if they are about to fall.
Brisbane friends, I recommend checking out Nirvana’s classes.
This one is a bit of a different option, a kind of cross over between a yoga class and a physio appointment. Sounds painful? You’re not wrong.
MFR is an alternative medicine therapy treating skeletal muscle immobility and pain by relaxing contracted muscles, improving blood and lymphatic circulation, and stimulating the stretch reflex in muscles (source: Wikipedia).
I’ve only recently discovered this practice, derived from the osteopathic theory, through the Roll & Release class at Yoga Box. Basically, we use a set of loose and hard balls (tennis balls for example) to loosen the fascia (connective tissue wrapping the muscle) and release muscle pain.
I won’t lie to you. If feels pretty awful (although at the same time kind of good) to be pressuring a specific area of your body (most likely a very tight one, like your back or your calves muscles, but you’d be surprised to find out tightness where you least expect it) without moving, whilst trying to breathe through and stay connected for three. whole. minutes.
It’s definitely a challenging practice (probably most of all mentally – it’s all in your head), but one I highly recommend, for you’ll be feeling so good afterwards. And if you’re not feeling up for a mental challenge, you can always do it at home whilst watching a show!
A bit of a funny one to finish this article. I haven’t actually tried it yet, but I think it’s next on my list! (anyone knows where to practice this in Australia?)
I think the bottom line for me here is, put yourself out of your comfort zone, try something scary, and you may end up having fun.
Have you tried any of these types of yoga? What is your next challenge?