An old dog can learn a new trick, but how about a downward-facing dog? Yogis both new and experienced are twisting the ancient practice into new forms.
Inspired by the upcoming Iowa Yoga Festival (Aug. 28-30 at the Iowa Events Center) we asked yoga instructors around the metro region about what classes were trending among their attendees and learned that interests of yogis here are as diverse as the offerings.
Outdoor community yoga
Why do a tree pose in an enclosed room when you could be near actual trees with a bunch of other people who love a good sun salutation? What started as one yoga session at Gray's Lake a few years ago has turned into a meditative storm around the metro, giving people who may not otherwise try yoga a chance to roll out the mat. A number of studios host classes outdoors and some instructors host their own.
Instructors who teach outdoor classes say it can be tough for some in the class to focus on their technique with the hustle and bustle of a passing car or chirping bird, but said most people get in their zone about 15 minutes in.
"When the weather's great, it's liberating, it feels free," said Lisa Acheson, owner of Lisa Acheson Yoga, based in Des Moines. (She is scheduled to teach a yoga in the park session at Gray's Lake at 9 a.m. Sept. 12).
"It's fantastic," she added. "The sun is shining on you, you feel the wind on your back — that's intense, that can be kind of powerful."
WHERE TO FIND IT: Des Moines Parks and Recreation offers outdoor yoga classes in the summer. Here are two locations where classes are still underway. Don't forget to bring your mat and a towel.
- Yoga in the Park is held Saturdays at 9 a.m. at Grays Lake Park through Sept. 26.
- Yoga at the Plaza is held Wednesdays in July and August at 11:30 a.m. at 520 Robert D. Ray Dr
ONLINE: Follow facebook.com/DesMoinesParks for more info plus updates on any cancellations.
Pop up yoga
Similar to outdoor yoga, but a bit more unpredictable. You never know where you're going to go. New studio Pop Up Yoga DSM co-creator Emily Boyd said the practice is a way to bring yoga to people who might not have a studio nearby. Just check its website and social media accounts for time, date and place. Pop-up yoga events have been scheduled at The Riverwalk Hub, Columbus Park, Greenwood Park and numerous other locales in the Des Moines metro area.
What's more? It's totally free. And Boyd said she wants to keep it that way. She and the other instructors donate their time to teach classes around the area.
"This was our opportunity to bring yoga to fun, quirky different places," Boyd said.
HOW TO FIND IT: Visit the website at popupyogadsm.com
If you have a love for yoga and don't mind really getting to know someone, acro yoga might be for you. Done with a partner, one is a base and one is a flyer. There are spotters too. It's all about trusting your partner and your body. It can also be a great relationship-builder, numerous instructors said.
And popularity of this adventurous type of yoga is exploding.
In September 2014, Tiffany Thomas said she started her first acro yoga class with a partner. Before that, she said, there were no other acro-classes that she knew of in Iowa. Now, she's had to move studio spaces and switch times due to the popularity of the class.
"Acro has been known to be called the yoga of trust," the acro yoga teacher at Power Life said.
And yes, sometimes people who meet in acro yoga develop deeper feelings. She said she recently heard about a couple who met through acro yoga that was getting engaged.
"It's combining the intimacy of yoga and the power and .... combining it with another person - it's really special to me," she said. "You can't walk away from the class not knowing someone's name or making a connection."
HOW TO FIND IT: Power Life Yoga offers acro yoga class at its West Glen studio as well as its downtown studio.
Pretty self-explanatory. You just may feel like your sun salutation is closer to the sun in these steamy rooms (temperatures are 100, 104 degrees, said Kris Larrison, owner of Kris' Hot Yoga & Hot Barre, located in Waukee and Ankeny.) Great way to break a sweat. Make sure to bring a water and a towel.
So why would people want to do hot yoga?
Larrison doesn't mince words. Yes, when people step into the studio, they think "holy crap, this is really hot."
But then something happens, she said.
"They feel a calming over them," she said. "It's such a great workout. It feels detoxifying."
Larrison advises anyone with any health condition to consult their doctor before trying hot yoga.
HOW TO FIND IT: Studios across the metro offer hot yoga classes; you can find Kris' studio by going to krishotyoga.com
A mashup of pilates, ballet and yoga, barre incorporates the ballet barre, without the need for ballet shoes or experience.
Students get a total body experience to strengthen arms, abs, legs and glutes, increases flexibility and your balance. Larrison, who also offers barre classes at her studio, said people who like barre are among those looking for a "different kind of workout."
"They feel like a dancer," she said.
HOW TO FIND IT: Offered at studios around the Des Moines metro
Most Americans start yoga with a fitness motivation, but often find the other benefits of the practice to be just as, if not more noticeable. Many Des Moines instructors say the fitness draws them in, the calming, long-lasting good feeling keeps people coming.
Some can even find it healing. Lily Hou, of Green Yoga House in Waukee, says she's had people come to class with back pain, depression, a spine fusion, shoulder injuries, even car accident victims, and leave with more mobility than ever before. The one-on-one attention – which is another growing trend – helps Hou determine what each client needs to feel better.
HOW TO FIND IT: For details on class times, visit greenyogahouse.com
National trends to watch out for
These may not be in the Midwest now, but you never know when these trends could spring up.
Yoga with wine
You read right. Exercise, a meditative state of mind and a glass of wine to reward yourself after. More popular in the coastal cities, especially those in California, this practice is popular at retreats.
This one probably won't be rolling in anytime soon, but San Francisco and New Yorkers are loving it. What better way to be completely one with your body.
Broga is a more fitness-based yoga where men can strengthen the naturally-strong areas, but also work on the areas that are often tight or more prone to injury and improve flexibility.
But don't be fooled by the name – women are also welcome in the class.
What: Iowa Yoga Festival, an event scheduled Aug. 28-30 jammed packed with workshops and sessions on how to improve your yoga practice.
Where: Iowa Events Center
Cost: $295 for full festival pass; $185 for one-day pass
More info: iowayogafestival.com