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Stretch Your Limits: 9 Wildly Bizarre Yoga Classes

PHOTO: Doug Evilsizor, El Pinto

Goats, ganja, and tantrums are just a few of the bizarre takes on an ancient tradition.

Yoga may be more mainstream than tofu these days, but these versions aren’t. Imagine doing your downward dog upside down, with a pig named Tequila Barbie … or in the nude. As crazy they may seem, they all have one thing in common: a successful pursuit of Zen. Here are ten ways to take your yoga to the next level.

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Goat Yoga

No, goat yoga does not entail goats doing yoga. You are. As you go through your poses, sweet goats cuddle up to you, making you smile and relax. Sometimes, they nibble on your mat, climb on you, give you a nuzzle, and that’s all part of the therapy. The end game? It’s impossible to be sad surrounded by mischievous goats.

INSIDER TIPGoat yoga classes are springing up across the nation. Arizona Goat Yoga features yoga with dressed-up goats in a ranch setting.

Anti-gravity-yoga
PHOTO: AntiGravity Fitness LLC
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Upside-Down Yoga

Yoga alone takes good balance and strength, but try it hanging upside-down from a suspended hammock and you’ve got a whole new ballgame. Dangling there, with the blood rushing to your head, you intermingle traditional poses with acrobatics. You’ll find yourself stretching more deeply and holding positions longer. Not to mention the wonderful things it does for your spine.

You can find upside-down yoga—also called anti-gravity yoga—the world over; go here to find a class near you. The original class is Christopher Harrison’s AntiGravity Fitness in NYC.

Tantrum-Yoga
PHOTO: Courtesy of Hemalayaa Behl
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Tantrum Yoga

Yoga is a safe place for whatever or however you’re feeling. But what if you feel like throwing a tantrum? Then tantrum yoga is for you. In this class, channel your inner child as you do poses, dance a little, yell—and even do some chest-pounding and holding your breath to get your way. You’ll find your tension and emotion and anger releasing, leaving you blissfully calm.

Yoga teacher Hemalayaa, the founder of tantrum yoga, teaches tantrum yoga at workshops and retreats, and has created DVDs for home practice.

Dogya
PHOTO: Byheaven87 | Dreamstime.com
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Doga

Downward dog may draw out the dog in all of us, but here’s a switch: Bring your dog to class and do poses together. Chair, for example, entails Fido sitting on his hind legs as you hold him from behind and raise his paws in the air. In chaturanga, Princess lies on her stomach as you stroke her back. As for benefits, doga teaches trust between owners and pets, relaxes and relieves stress in both parties, and enhances range of motion.

Dog yoga is offered in most large cities. Barking Buddha Doga in Seattle, Washington, by Brenda Bryan, is popular; Bryan has also written a book about doga, Barking Buddha: Simple Soul Stretches for Yogi and Dogi.

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Laughter-Yoga
PHOTO: Laughter Online University
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Laughter Yoga

Remember when you were a kid and someone would start laughing, and everyone else would join in? And you might not even know what everyone was laughing about? And yet you laughed so hard your stomach hurt? Laughter Yoga captures that joyful essence of childhood, using playfulness (and eye contact – laughter is contagious, remember) to literally crack everyone up. Benefits include mindfulness and social bonding.

The Laughter Consultants, based in Los Angeles, offer workshops and specialized programs. Also check out Laughter Online University.

nagnaresized
PHOTO: Herb Piper
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Nagna

No need to worry about cute yogawear in this class. Nagna—or naked yoga—has been around since ancient times, remerging in the 60s among hippies. Now it’s back again in full force, offered in yoga studios and retreats around the world. If you can get past the naked part, it’s a fabulous way to come to peace with your body, accepting yourself wholeheartedly.

INSIDER TIPNuReveal Yoga in Florida has an active calendar of classes.

YogaRita
PHOTO: Doug Evilsizor, El Pinto
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YogaRita

Animals are well known for their therapeutic benefits, including helping lower blood pressure and cholesterol levels. But here’s a twist. As you’re doing plank, a mini micro pig jumps on your back. A pig named Tequila Barbie, who’s wearing a tutu and hat. He snuffles about the room, and weaves around, beneath and on top of people.

Welcome to fun-loving Sydney Forestal’s Sunday morning yoga class, called YogaRita Flow. But pigs aren’t the only crazy thing going. Medals are awarded, costumes are donned (depending on the theme of the week), and as you continue your poses, servers walk the floor, offering margaritas. They’re half the sugar, so they’re healthy (the Sunday 10 a.m. class, dubbed the “detox” one, is just as fun, but without the margaritas).

INSIDER TIPYogaRita classes take place in the cottonwood-shaded park area of iconic El Pinto Restaurant and Cantina, in Albuquerque, New Mexico.

Paddleboard-Yoga
PHOTO: Smileboards | Dreamstime.com
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SUP Yoga

Standing on a standup paddleboard (SUP) is hard enough, requiring balance, focus, and core strength. So imagine adding yoga into the mix, where the tiniest little wave disruption can send you into the water.

Devotees say that’s the point. You have no choice but to let go of the fact you can’t do perfect poses, and you’ll probably end up getting wet. There are other benefits as well—striking poses on a moving surface fires up the core muscles and activate tinier muscles that aren’t necessarily needed on the ground. Not to mention, you’re out in the fresh air with beautiful scenery all around. The perfect remedy for mind, body, and soul. Potomac Paddlesports in Washington, D.C., has established the nation’s first SUP yoga studio.

Ganja-yoga
PHOTO: Elena Kulikova
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Ganja Yoga

Before you slip into downward dog, share a joint with the class in one of the latest yoga crazes. It’s said herbal use in yoga was a standard in ancient India, and with the easement of marijuana laws in the U.S., it’s making a comeback. According to proponents, benefits include freer movement, a heightened spiritual consciousness, and a general sense of mellow. Of course, you can only do this in places where marijuana is legal. And if you get the giggles, please be courteous and excuse yourself.

INSIDER TIPDee Dussault, author of “Ganja Yoga,” teaches popular classes in San Francisco.