Relax, reboot: Emerging innovations within traditional frameworks of yoga
We take a look at some emerging forms of yoga practices that aren’t completely contrary to age-old traditions
A true gift to the world, yoga is an ancient Indian practice where body, mind, and spirit unite in a harmonious flow. Through a combination of physical postures, breathing techniques, and meditation, it offers a profound path to inner peace, strength, and vitality.
As Covid-19 reset the world, yoga’s popularity surged. There have been attempts to introduce new and creative forms of yoga while sustaining age-old techniques. Slackline yoga, facial yoga, hot yoga, Roga (designed specifically for runners), and other hybrid forms are some practices in vogue these days.
“However, any bizarre concept in the name of yoga should never be put into practice. For example, beer yoga is not a legit practice for me. The different forms should be within the framework and intention of yoga practices,” says popular yoga exponent Sudakshna Thampi.
We take a look at some emerging forms of yoga practices that aren’t completely contrary to age-old traditions.
Water yoga is more of a therapeutic process, says Prema Sankar, a yoga practitioner based in Varkala. “This wellness practice relaxes one’s body and supports the muscles. Also, the process grows your comfort in the water,” she explains.
Water yoga is done by immersing one’s body in warm water, and then yoga asanas are performed. This helps improve body posture. “It can be practised for an hour. Standing asanas, chair pose, and balancing exercises can be done without the use of any floating boards,” adds Prema. “As muscles are loose in the water, don’t overstretch; it should not reach a point of pain.”
Benefits: Improves flexibility, supports the range of motion of each joint, and relieves stress.
This stream of yoga focuses on the joints. “As we grow older, the fluid in the joints tends to become hardened, so it’s important to concentrate on the joints. That’s why Yin Yoga is essential,” says Sudakshna. “Yin Yoga can also enhance qualities such as letting go, humility, surrender, and grounding.”
In Yin Yoga, props like bolsters and blocks are used while performing asanas. “If you intersperse an asana with Yin Yoga, one can reach results much faster,” says Sudakshna.
Benefits: Structural flexibility, eases stiffness in joints, good for fascia connective tissue and ligaments.
As the name suggests, it is a power-packed form of yoga that improves muscle strength and cardiovascular endurance. Power Yoga is a form of Vinyasa that has its roots in Ashtanga yoga. “In this form, the traditional asanas are performed, but you move from one posture to another rapidly, while also linking your breath with the fast-paced motions. It involves high-impact yoga postures,” says Deepika Kapoor, a yoga practitioner in Thiruvananthapuram. “Despite being a fast-paced yoga form that helps burn calories, the practice is said to offer a mindful experience.”
Benefits: Builds strength, improves cardiovascular health, improves sleep, boosts energy levels, and improves brain function.
Aerial yoga is a unique mix of postures, pilates, and dance moves. Founded by American exponent Michelle Dortignac, this yoga form is a soothing process where participants use a hammock that supports each motion.
Some of the poses include Bharmanasana Lateral Leg Lift Aerial (table-top posture), Saaras Pakshi Asana Hasta Aerial (stork bird posture), and Padmasana Aerial (lotus posture). Practitioners sway and pendulum motions allow maximum stretching of the legs, hips, and upper body.
Benefits: Relief from cramps and pains, relaxes the back, helps reduce back stress and back pain, increases flexibility, and improves posture. It also benefits individuals emotionally, spiritually, and psychologically.
Who should avoid: Pregnant women, seniors, people with documented physical and mental issues, as well as those with vertigo, migraine, epilepsy, and anxiety.
Heavily inspired by Bikram Yoga, this style is practised in a hot room or setting with temperatures ranging from 35-41 degrees Celsius and high humidity. The poses involved help maintain fitness by burning fat throughout the session.
Some of the asanas are Parayma (breathing technique), Ardha Chandrasana (half-moon pose), and Utkatasana (chair pose). Music can be included to elevate the mood.
Benefits: Helps burn calories in a stress-free and enjoyable way. Improves flexibility, nourishes the skin, improves cardiovascular capacity, and reduces glucose levels. It also relieves stiffness in the back and shoulders and improves neck support.
Unlike conventional yoga, this one is more energetic and aerobics-based. Here, hip-hop moves and music are incorporated, which can appeal to youngsters entering the world of yoga.
“I think music and yoga is a good idea, but more focus should be on yoga than the musical aspect,” says Mini, a Yoga practitioner at Mini’s Yoga Vibes in Kakkanad. “As long as the people involved feel relaxed and perform yoga efficiently, it is a great means of teaching yoga to the younger generation.”
Benefits: Helpful for those who experience depression, anxiety, and other documented mental issues. People with low blood sugar, heart problems, and other bodily issues are advised to avoid this yoga style.
Natya Yoga combines yoga with classical dance movements, which is more like music with movement therapy. Instructor and nutritionist Uma Kalyani, along with Mohiniyattom performer Vidya Pradeep, has been practising this form for the past four years.
“Natya Yoga means practising yoga with music. Some of the poses in this yoga are similar to classical dance moves, like the Veerabhadrasana and Nataraja poses. This form also has similarities to Hatha yoga, but it has a different approach as it integrates dance and abhinaya,” explains Uma.
Natya Yoga begins with Pranayama. Later, as the music flows, yoga and dance poses are blended. The session is colluded with a 15-minute Yoga Nidra, a deep relaxation technique.
Benefits: Calms the mind. Improves flexibility, balance, and concentration.