The Changing Nature of Yoga Practice
I’ve had a regular yoga practice for about 15 years. But the yoga I started in 2001 is much different that what I practice now. Yoga is changing– and I think it’s a good thing.
When I first started yoga, most of the classes available were very mellow: Iyengar, hatha-style classes that were gentle and perfect for a newbie yogi. Soon I found Ashtanga yoga, a more advanced and fast-paced practice, and these were my two choices.
In the past few years, however, I’ve seen the world of yoga expand beyond these limited offerings.
While some critics say that we’ve lost the root of yoga, I think that these changes are a good thing, as they bring in new types of people into the practice, and (hopefully) help instill some of the deep values inherent in yoga: ahimsa, non-violence to all things, and yama, deals with one’s ethical standards and sense of integrity.
Currently my favorite practice is a booty-shaking shakti flow (aka, twerking yoga) or a fast-paced, graceful Bhakti flow. These yoga styles didn’t exist when I started, but I couldn’t be happier to have found them.
If you want to see what’s happening at the forefront of the yoga movement, Wanderlust is a great place to do so. Each year that I’ve attended the Wanderlust festivals on Oahu and in California, I’ve been so impressed with the variety of styles and types of yoga that honestly, it’s hard to make a decision. You can find meditative yin yoga, balance-challenging slackline yoga, upside-down aerial yoga, and dance-your-ass of yoga on any given day. You’ll also find Shakti yoga, Ashtanga, Vinyasa and so much more.
One of the other reasons I think these new yoga styles are so great its that they are bringing more menfolk into the classes. While most dudes I know would totally benefit from a gentle yin class, I think they are challenged by a shakti class, and impressed that they can sweat their butt off in a groovy flow class.
Finally, these new styles are so dang FUN! We all know we SHOULD work out more, make more time for relaxation, but it’s not always easy (understatement of the year, I know). These new types of yoga also literally shake our bodies out of our routine, and help us expand our brain. Practicing (and falling) in a new pose or totally new style of yoga reminds us that it’s ok to learn something new, to be silly, to move our body in a new way, all of which lead to less stress and a healthier body and soul.
Here are some pictures from the 2016 Wanderlust Oahu event, which we had the privledge of attending again this year. Check out the changes that are afoot in our growing tribe of yogis!
All images by Ali Kaukas for Wanderlust (Oahu, 2016)