Yoga in 2016: Mainstream, manly and varied

NEW YORK, Dec 7 — The popularity of yoga has been growing for several years now but 2016 may mark the year that yoga went truly mainstream, universally accessible, thanks to a boom in yogawear brands, yoga-practicing supermodels, and numerous Instagram accounts showing off some impressive yoga poses.

Here we take a look at some of the trends and styles of yoga that became big in 2016 and helped yoga become a practice for all to enjoy.

Yoga for men

Although the Yoga Alliance reports that over 70 per cent of the yoga practitioners in the US are still female, 2016 saw more men getting on the mat, up from four million in 2012 to 10 million by the beginning of 2016.

Online yoga videos for men continued to multiply on dedicated websites such as Broga Yoga, Dirty Yoga and Man Flow Yoga, not only to get the guys interested in yoga but also to offer workouts specifically designed for the male body. The increase in popularity of couples’ yoga, where couples practice together using partner poses, also helped encourage guys to give yoga a try, while celebrities such as Russell Simmons, who opened his own yoga centre Tantris in LA just last month, also helped shake the image that yoga is just for women.

Yoga and meditation

As the trend for mindfulness grew and an increasing number of studies back up the health benefits with science, both meditation and yoga shook off flaky connotations as we all looked for a deeper, more meaningful mind-body connection.

For those who struggled to focus solely on meditation in today’s fast-paced, ultra-connected world, yoga offered the perfect alternative, combining both a physical and mental workout to ease us all into a mindfulness practice.

Kundalini yoga, once overshadowed by styles such as Hatha, became more popular thanks to its incorporation of meditation, mantras and breathing techniques, while Instagram posts from yoga brands and devotees such as Alo Yoga and Kate Hudson encouraged followers to use yoga as way to tap into mindfulness.

Varied styles

Once known mainly for styles such as Hatha, Ashtanga and Iyengar, 2016 saw not only other styles of yoga grow in popularity, but also more creative ways to get involved.

Several yoga classes sprouted up adding an element of fun. This summer Kimpton Hotels offered a variety of yoga classes across their US hotels, including thug yoga at the Kimpton Sky Hotel in Aspen, Colorado, where yogis could enjoy a combination of yoga, hip-hop music and even a beer on the hotel’s pool deck.

The unlikely sounding Rage Yoga also combined alcohol with asanas, holding classes in a pub. All the rage in Alberta, Canada, where it was founded, Rage Yoga offers a Vinyasa class but with more fun, more jokes and an after-class beer thrown in. Offering something similar to Rage Yoga, Bad Yogi gives online classes to those who want to practice yoga but without any snobbery and seriousness that the practice can be associated with.

Also along the lines of Rage yoga, doom metal yoga, done in candlelight, or heavy metal yoga attracted some practitioners in London this year, while a Harry Potter-themed yoga class in Austin, Texas at Circle Brewing became a media sensation, and yoga with cats from an animal shelter further upped the feel good factor in some US cities. — AFP-Relaxnews.