Facing my Inner Sceptic

I have seen so many yoga trends over the years. From new moms to animal lovers to paddleboard enthusiasts, there’s a yoga fit for almost everyone. And I have tried many of them. Why? Because facing my inner skeptic enables me to rejuvenate my practice and my attitude – not just to yoga, but also to life.

“I love the way yoga appears capable of continual evolution without losing its roots”

Here are some of the trends I have tried, and my comments, unedited or managed for reading impact. There was always some personal discovery in each of them.

Nude yoga first surfaced in the western world during the hippie movement of the 1960’s, but really didn’t take off until the early 2000s. Nude yoga is believed to remove shame and negativity associated with the body and instill confidence.

I did a hot nude yoga class in LA. Actually, 5 classes. Same sex, co-ed and partially clothed, the only difference from my usual hot yoga (besides being in the buff) was that people generally smelt cleaner (I believe that wearing clothes to yoga encourages people to not shower before a yoga class – showering should be compulsory with body testing at the entrance to all hot yoga studios). I seriously did not notice anyone else’s body, except the teacher cos he was naked too. What I discovered about myself: I have a hedonistic streak in me, which appreciates wearing no clothes as much as I appreciate wearing gorgeous clothes.

Doga (Dog yoga) combines mediation, stretching and massage for dogs and their human partners. It is believed because dogs are pack animals they are a natural fit for yoga that, as a spiritual practice, emphasizes union and connection with other beings. Now I did this with a yoga teacher who used to walk her dogs with me, when I lived in Australia. A nice group of about 5 of us would doga twice a week. My two miniature schnauzers found it a struggle to listen and change positions (my girl dog, Bliss, thought it was a game, and kept barking every time we moved from down dog to plank). Ace, my boy dog, went to sleep, the moment I placed my hands on him. Devotees believe doga improves heart health and digestion in dogs and reduces stress in us humans.

Pregnant woman and puppy practicing dog yoga pose at home

What I discovered about myself with Doga: The way I feel has an immediate impact on my fur kids, and maybe my loved ones, too.

Aerial (or hammock) yoga – I tried this nearly 10 years ago, in the land where all crazy things come from – the good ol’ US of A. At the time, it was seen as very ‘out there’. You are suspended in the air for most of your practice. Inversions abound, great for your back, and so much fun. You feel like you are in Cirque Du Soleil. I have recently reacquainted myself with aerial yoga, and love the feeling of being lighter mentally after practice. Although I spend a lot of time getting in and out of the hammock – your core gets a serious work out as you move from pose to pose.

Aerial yoga

What I discovered about myself with Aerial Yoga:  Fear holds me back in ways I could not understand, until I was inverted and swinging in monkey’s pose.

Chair Yoga – hatha yoga poses in which you are standing near to, or sitting on a chair. One of the gentlest forms of yoga I have experienced. Almost like yin, except you are on a chair instead of the ground for most of the poses. For me, I feel unstable on a chair, preferring the floor or a bolster. But I discovered it works wonders on the lower back and hips. And I think it would be fantastic for people who find getting up and down from the floor troublesome.

The current trend in yoga has been focus on the asanas. Different ways to do them, combine them, and feel them. Asanas is only one of the eight limbs of yoga, but the most accessible for many. It is the entrance into yoga, not the end of yoga. I notice people who have found their way into yoga via the asanas, are getting more and more curious about the ‘what next?’ which I know they feel as their practice deepens. Being open to different types of asana practice (maybe the crazier, the better?) helps them, and me, to continue the path inwards.

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So, next time, before you say ‘whatever’, when your teacher tells you to do something a little out there, smile and mentally bungee jump. You might be surprised at what you will uncover.

This article appeared in the October edition of the ANZA Singapore Community Magazine.  ANZA WanderingYogis practice yoga outdoors at the Botanic Gardens and East Coast Park every week.  You can register for a class pass here.

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