Do the yoga evolution

Yoga has been around for centuries; in fact, millennia.Although it has been adapted and modernized through the ages, yoga remains a practice that is meant to enhance the mind-body-spirit connection.

How people achieve this connection varies, and more and more instructors and students are taking their practice off the mat, or out of the studio entirely. Dozens of yoga styles that fuse elements of dance, martial arts and strength training with more traditional forms of yoga are popping up in gyms and studios across the country.

From high-flying to furry, here’s a look at the latest trends in being peacefully flexible:

AERIAL YOGA

Aerial yoga does more than take yoga to a different level, it takes it off the ground completely. A fabric hammock (picture the beautiful, flowing material of a circus aerialist) is used to support yogis in a number of poses, both on and off the mat.


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Practicing yoga midair may seem like a break from tradition, but Michelle Dortignac, founder of Unnata Aerial Yoga, based in New York City, doesn’t think so. “I don’t really see aerial yoga as completely different from traditional yoga at all,” she says.“The hammock is a prop, just like bricks, blankets or bolsters.”

Not only does the hammock help students reap the benefits of poses that they couldn’t do without the support of the fabric and help of gravity, but aerial yoga also decompresses the spine, increases flexibility, strength and breathing capacity and reduces stress.

STAND-UP PADDLE BOARD (SUP) YOGA

For yoga instructor and outdoor enthusiast Mary Lou Cerami, of ChicagoSUPYoga.com, using a stand-up paddle board as a yoga mat was a natural evolution. Cerami teaches SUP yoga on Lake Michigan.“When you are standing on a paddle board, you really feel a huge connection with nature,” she says.“It all comes together to create this really amazing experience.”

Stand-up paddle boarding itself is a great cardio and core workout.When you are on an unstable surface you have to use every muscle just to stand, explains Cerami.The instability really helps yogis remain aware of their body in each pose.“It’s like yoga, plus 80 percent,” she says.

You don’t have to have yoga experience — or even know how to paddle board — but you do have to be open to getting wet.

SPIN YOGA

If you were to find two fitness genres that are least alike, it might be spin and yoga.This is precisely why classes that fuse the two are becoming popular. People want the stress-reducing benefits of yoga, but they also want to see changes to their body, says Patsy Juarez, owner of The Spinning Yogi, Lakewood, Colo.

Spinning tones the body and torches calories.“People will drop clothing sizes if they come on a regular basis,” Juarez says. Because of the yoga element, they will also increase flexibility, balance and strength while diminishing physical and mental stress.

DOGA

There are dog people and then there are dog people. Suzi Teitelman, founder of Doga Dog, is definitely a dog person. Her Jacksonville, Fla., company specializes in teaching owners how to include pets in their yoga practice. Doga shows owners how to massage and stretch out their pooch in a variety of standing and seated positions.

It offers the same physical and mental benefits of yoga, with the added benefit of bonding with your dog. It’s a great workout for home, but if you can find a local class, it can be a lot of fun. “You get to meet people who love yoga and love dogs,”Teitelman says.“What could be better?”

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