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This is definitely not your mom’s yoga. Two new classes, Rage Yoga in Calgary, Alberta, and Doom Metal Yoga in Portland, Oregon, are breaking the yoga mold, featuring heavy metal, cursing, and yes, beer.
“A lot of people love conventional yoga, which is great, but it doesn’t work for everybody,” says Rage Yoga founder Lindsay Istace (pictured above). “A lot of people feel awkward and intimidated, like they’ve walked into a library full of gymnasts. Some people need a different route in order to get that same centered place.”
Here are two classes that definitely take a less conventional path to enlightenment—and have fun doing it.
Rage Yoga started off as a joke. “When a long-term relationship of mine fell apart, I was not doing OK, and my practice got me through that,” Istace says. “I was joking about my ‘rage practice,’ and somebody said they could see me teaching Rage Yoga. I pitched it at a festival and it went over really well—people said they needed the emotional release and the less serious approach to yoga.”
Istace taught the first class in Calgary in January of this year, and it snowballed overnight, she says, with people from around the world wanting to teach the class (Istace is launching a teacher training program next year).
So what puts the rage in Rage Yoga? Well, for starters, cursing is encouraged, as is humor and laughter. The vinyasa-style class features metal, blues, and rock music (although it always begins and ends on a “relaxed and chill note.”) And yes, you can sip beer during the class, which takes place in the back of a pub. “When Rage Yoga first hit, there was a huge misconception that it was a bunch of angry people in a bar getting drunk, bitching about their day,” Istace says. “It’s much more of a conventional yoga class than people expect. The difference is the laid-back atmosphere, which helps people be honest about their emotions and what they’re thinking.”
For example, in one team participation exercise, Istace asks students to take a cleansing breath. On the exhale, they tie it in with an F-bomb or scream whatever they want to say. “I have heard everything,” she says. “My favorite was, ‘I asked you to wash the dishes yesterday!'”
The goal of all this rage? “Attaining good health and to become zen as f*ck,” Istace says on her website.
Rage Yoga at a Glance
Dickens Pub, Calgary, Alberta, Canada
Every Monday, Wednesday, and Thursday (currently on break for December)
Doom Metal Yoga
Heavy metal is pretty much the opposite of the type of music you typically hear in a yoga class (if you practice to music at all). But doom metal—a sub-genre of heavy metal featuring a slow, powerful sound, longer songs, and “kind of a moody vibe”—is actually a great fit for yoga, says Kali Giaritta (pictured above), who launched her Doom Metal Yoga classes in Portland, Oregon, in October.
“I think that the music being really powerful aids in the strength poses quite a bit,” she says. “Yoga has a balance between a strength and a peacefulness—I think doom metal has the same balance: a strong heavy sound, combined with a more vulnerable emotional sound as well.”
Giaritta, who is also part of a touring psychedelic pop duo called There Is No Mountain, says she got the idea for Doom Metal Yoga when she asked her students which kind of music they would like to practice to and one requested the doom metal band Pallbearer. “It was one of coolest classes I’ve been a part of,” she says. Giaritta fell in love with the genre, and Doom Metal Yoga was born.
Doom Metal Yoga is a mix of vinyasa and hatha yoga, but the music definitely slows down the pace, explains Giaritta, who sold out her last class and added another to meet demand. “We fit in more challenging things, but the speed is slow. I’ve noticed that people get really focused, because it’s so slow and powerful,” she says. But it’s not all melodramatic and serious. “It’s really fun. We’ll have moments in class where something is so silly or over the top or a riff is so outrageously good, that we’ll laugh a little bit. It’s a good balance of fun and emotional.”
Doom Metal Yoga at a Glance
Trip the Dark Studios in Portland, Oregon
5-week Thursday night series beginning January 26, 2017
$15 per class, or $60 for all 5 classes (get one free!)
See also Sync Yoga with Music