We all know yoga is good for us. That’s why it’s still going strong after 5,000 years, while fads like the Stilleto Workout (yep, literally doing exercise in high heels), the Yummy Mummy workout (using your baby as a dumbbell) and the Brazilian Butt Lift (tbh, I liked this one) all fizzled out. Yoga’s track record for lengthening, strengthening and improving our posture is the real deal, but there’s something unappealing about the idea of incarcerating ourselves in a studio with people who eat quinoa and make their lifestyle choices according to Gwyneth Paltrow’s guidelines. But it’s OK – there are rebel cells offering alternative yoga sessions for exercise insurgents. Here are my picks…
Done in a hanging hammock, AntiGravity Yoga is the Cirque du Soleil of yoga classes, with classes taught throughout the country. Inspired by an acrobatic troupe of the same name, the class draws on techniques from dance, pilates and calisthenics, ‘to get you in shape, while realigning you from the compression of gravity.’ It even promises, ‘Self-esteem enhancement through conquering basic fears.’ My basic fear would be my bodyweight wrenching the hammock from the ceiling, but according to the site, each ceiling point can take 454kgs and you’ll only rip through the hammock itself if you’re knocking on 1,000kgs, so most of us will be fine.
Heavy Metal Yoga
Taking place in the City, this yoga class for head-banging bankers promises to unleash the beast and add a touch of darkness to the path of enlightenment. Shoulder mobilisation is re-branded as ‘air guitar’ and back bends are re-packaged as ‘stage dives’. Fingers are folded into the ‘rock on’ sign at every opportunity, and the soundtrack is carefully curated, so no one gets a migraine during their downward dog. Instructor Ben promises the classes, at GymBox Bank, will lead to a more productive day and a spine that’s 2cm longer.
This includes a section called ‘Phenomenal Abdominal’ – a concept I think we can all get behind. Participants are promised, ‘mo’ mental power’, as a result of doing yoga sequences ‘at mad speed’ to, ‘the phattest hiphop beats.’ The hip-hop theme is not just about the music – in one video of the class, instructor Neil Patel stops the warm-up to explain the meaning behind the shoulder mobilisation movement, which he says represents, ‘brushing dirt off your shoulder, like it ain’t nothing.’ Stamina levels are apparently pushed to the max at the 90-minute class which takes place in Wembley Park on Mondays.
Stand-Up Paddle Yoga
If balancing in unlikely positions is just too easy on a studio floor, why don’t you do it on the polluted waters of Paddington Basin, rocking about on a surf board that, ‘becomes your new floating yoga mat’? Participants can feel free to wear their usual yoga clothing, however wetsuits are apparently available on request, and, ‘people who are not entirely comfortable on water can also wear buoyancy aids.’ Private lessons are currently available and group classes will begin for the season in April/May depending on conditions.
This is, yep, yoga with your dog. Apparently, ‘all size and breeds are welcome as long as they are happy to be there and not too nervous about other dogs.’ The 90-minute class is taught by Mahny Djahanguiri who’s written a book about a mouse with yogic super powers. Doga doesn’t use leads or treats and goes by the belief that trying to control pets ‘can oftentimes disrupt the NATURAL relationship we have with nature.’ Djahanguiri offers group classes in Camden as well as paw-2-paw private sessions in clients’ homes.
Yoga classes can seem like a bit of a no-go zone for guys. David Baddiel voiced many men’s fears when he joked that in a studio full of lithe Lycra-clad women, his signature pose was ‘the tripod’. There’s also the idea that – like eating quiche – real men don’t do it. But Broga – founded by former American football star Matt Miller – sets out to dispel the stereotype. Miller says Broga is, ‘a yoga practice engineered for the male athlete.’ And if you have qualms about being clumsy and uncoordinated? The word from Broga is that men ‘will never feel like a hippo tiptoeing through tulips doing it!’ Classes take place across Britain.
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