What Is Hybrid Yoga? Goat Yoga, Weed Yoga, Bro-ga & More
Hybrid Yoga: Animals, Substances, Sports, and Religion
Hybrid yoga is my term for the styles of yoga that incorporate an activity that is typically not associated with yoga with asana or other aspects of yogic practice.
This style of yoga is not really “real” yoga because it does not employ the primary technologies of yoga practice (e.g., pranayama practice, meditation) and does not promote inner focus. In fact, these styles of yoga are usually very social and the opposite of introspective and peaceful.
I watch you to know that there are some people in the yoga world who will scoff and have a few brusque words for you if you say “I do yoga” and what you mean is that you go to Kitten Yoga sometimes.
Don’t worry about them. You do you.
There is a ton of value in having a super accessible fun thing to do with friends and family that gets you outside, chatting, connecting, and enjoying yourself. The fact that it has the word “yoga” and that it’s not actually Yoga practice that has that deeper goal of connecting with the Universe doesn’t bother me, and it shouldn’t bother you.
In fact, including the word “yoga” in the title may be the first step down a path to true Yoga that they might not otherwise have ever considered. That’s a good thing.
Also, anything that brings joy into the world is absolutely Yoga, and if you’ve never done Downward Dog with a kitten playing between your hands, have you even lived?
How Are Hybrid Yoga Styles Born?
Who knows. Someone has an idea and they go for it, usually because they really like yoga but they also really like something else. In some cases, the activity or thing fused with yoga is completely disparate, like kittens and yoga, while in other cases it is a physical activity that benefits from specific yoga poses, like Hiking Yoga.
But in still other cases, it’s just a crazy idea that someone tried that for some reason resonated and went viral and now it’s a thing.
What Styles of Yoga Are Considered Hybrid Yoga?
Substances + Yoga
If you like to drink, you’re probably already familiar with types of yoga that incorporate beer or wine into the experience. In some cases, yoga is done while actively holding a full beverage (which may or may not be alcoholic), which as you can imagine, gets more difficult as the class goes on if the beverage contains alcohol. In these cases, there are often cues to take a sip, sometimes while doing a partner pose where arms are intertwined.
In other cases, a free drink comes with the yoga class pass and usually happens when the yoga class happens in a bar or a coffee shop. This benefits the small business as well as the yoga teacher, plus everyone feels good after yoga and gets to hang out. Everyone wins.
There are some yoga classes that incorporate the use of weed, either expecting that the person will show up having already smoked out or eaten an edible or starting the class with a shared smoking experience. These practices are often deeply introspective, and like classes that include alcohol, there is no judgment against those who choose not to imbibe.
NOTE: Substance use is not Yoga and should not be used as a tool to try to evoke the states of mind that come naturally through daily sadhana, or Yoga practice. If you choose to try this, make sure to prioritize safety and common sense, follow the law regarding possession and usage, and do not drive while under the influence.
Animals + Yoga
This is exactly what it sounds like: yoga plus your animal of choice. There are a lot more than these listed; just insert your favorite creature and roll out your mat.
The one that started it all. Goat yoga is really just you doing yoga outdoors with goats wandering around. They may ignore you; they may pee on your mat (I may or may not but definitely do have personal experience with this one).
You never know what’s going to happen. Usually at the end, the goat owners will come around and help you take a selfie with a goat and put the goat on your back while you’re in a yoga pose. It was the first animal yoga out there and now it’s practically mainstream with books, t-shirts, calendars, and even a wooden balancing game dedicated to it
Also done outside, there is almost no interaction with the horses but it’s probably the style of animal yoga that is most like actual Yoga because they are such peaceful and beautiful creatures.
This is similar to Goat Yoga, but with cute kittens so it usually happens inside. There’s more claws and less pee (not necessarily no pee, just less as compared to the goats).
This is like Goat Yoga and Kitten Yoga combined with all the pee, little teeth gnawing on your blocks, and unbelievably distracting cuteness.
This is like all the other animal yogas, but creepier. Unless you have a fondness for snakes.
Doga (AKA Dog Yoga)
This one is a bit different in that, Doga is actually yoga for dogs. Since dogs don’t speak English and therefore won’t follow a teacher’s cues, you follow the cues and move the dogs limbs as directed – if your dog will let you.
Baby & Me Yoga
You may argue that babies aren’t animals but I submit that they’re not too dissimilar to goats and that any yoga you attempt to do with them will not be an introspective, zen-like experience for you. There are different types of little kid yoga, depending on the age of your child companion. Baby yoga is akin to Doga, where you move the baby’s arms and legs as directed by the teacher, while toddlers will usually play yoga games and attempt a pose or two while you stand by and bigger kids may be guided through actual yoga poses (you may or may not take part as well).
Again, your partner is probably not an animal, occasional behavioral choices aside. But Partner Yoga classes are a place for you and someone you don’t mind touching to have fun experimenting with different asana poses. Think intertwined arms, leaning against one another, or legs creating shapes on the mat – it’s generally a lot of fun as long as you are with someone you know.
Activities + Yoga
I feel like there are probably far more styles of yoga that combine a sport with yoga practice, but it’s not my favorite thing (if you’re a member of Do a Shot of Yoga Online Studio, you know my area of expertise is the study of Yoga off the mat and gentle on the mat yoga asana + yin and Yoga Nidra), but these are some of the most popular that are on my radar and pretty widely available (with the exception, maybe, of hiking yoga).
Standup Paddle Board Yoga classes proliferate in the summer. You can usually find them at yoga festivals where there are bodies of water to take advantage of and held on lakes and bays. You can also just add a standup paddle board to your own personal yoga practice if you have access to open water (e.g., don’t do this in a pool).
It’s pretty much what it sounds like: standing on a stand up paddle board and doing yoga asana. You aren’t moving more than the waves or wind moves you, but it requires a lot of presence. If you don’t pay attention, you’ll end up in the water! It adds an element of surprise to your practice.
Hiking yoga is more of a “first this, then that” situation rather than doing both activities at once. Hiking yoga groups will usually do a bit of yoga first, then hike, then do more yoga when they reach the destination site. It works out great because you should stretch before climbing/ walking long distances and then release tight muscles that get sore at the end of the hike. Plus, the views are often gorgeous, making for a very spiritual yoga experience.
Water yoga is yoga that happens in the water, albeit with fewer inversions and modified poses that allow you to keep your head above water. You’ll find this most often in community centers that have a pool rather than yoga studios, and it’s usually geared toward seniors.
Acro Yoga, on the other hand, is decidedly not for seniors, not as a rule, in any case. This is more of a performance style yoga that takes two people. One person acts as the base and the other person is supported by their hands and/ or feet as they create the shape of a yoga pose. There are rarely classes for this as it requires a bit of strength, balance, and agility but you might see the occasional workshop or class at a festival.
Remember when stripper pole classes were popular as a form of exercise? Aerial yoga is similar, except it combines yoga with aerial acrobatics that you would usually see at the circus. It’s fun, and it’s a lot easier than it looks, and some people love it because it can help them get into postures that they otherwise couldn’t achieve – the same way that a headstand bench can help you to get in and out of inversions easily and safely.
Bonus: you can find aerial yoga kits to use at home if you don’t want to wait for a studio near you to offer a class: the kind you hang from the ceiling and the kind that comes with a freestanding frame that’s portable.
Yoga for Athletes
This is actually more of a hatha or vinyasa style practice, but I’m putting it in this section because there are yoga classes out there that are designed to address repetitive stress injuries that occur in athletes. Whether you’re a bowler or into Crossfit, if you like sports, this is definitely something to look into.
Emotions + Yoga
There’s pretty much no asana at all in most of these classes, at least there wasn’t in the ones that I’ve tried. You literally do nothing but laugh. Forced laughter, on and on and on.
The idea is that the fake laugh evolves into a real laugh, bringing with it the joy that usually causes laughter. It seems to be similar to the yogic concept of reverse engineering breath patterns so that it triggers the desired feeling rather than vice versa.
I personally don’t love it, but those who do REALLY do, so maybe you’ll love it too.
Now let’s head over to the opposite end of the emotional spectrum. If you’ve ever felt stifled in your expression of anger, then this is for you. It includes all the screaming, yelling, beating of fists, cursing that you can imagine, minus any language that diminishes other people or groups. There’s a little bit of asana in most classes, but it’s for those who find peace through the release of rage and want to have a good time.
Though yoga was traditionally practiced by men in India, in the West, females dominate in the teaching space and on the mat. There are plenty of men who practice yoga and teach it, but they are not the majority, not by a long shot. Some men don’t like that feeling of being the only dude in the room, so they created Bro-ga so they could bro out and do yoga? I don’t know. I’m not a bro. But it seems like they’re have a good time together, and that’s a good thing.
Religion + Yoga
There are some trademarked versions of yoga designed just for Christians, fewer for Jews, and even fewer for Muslims.
Because yoga as a practice is heavily associated with Hinduism, some yogis of non-Hindu faith feel love yoga but feel that it’s important to state their allegiance very clearly in their practice by actively inserting their sacred texts, prayers, and colloquialisms into class. Others find that they are able to connect more deeply and personally to Gd through yoga and meditation and use it expressly for that purpose.
This is actually a practice that has been going on for thousands of years. Buddhists and Jainists have done yoga asana for centuries, and many cultures, countries, and religions have incorporated its teachings. Yoga has never changed despite these adaptations, and continues to improve other cultures and help its practitioners to become better citizens of the world.
Who Is a Good Candidate for Hybrid Yoga Styles?
Anyone who wants to try hybrid yoga can find a style that suits their interests. While I don’t recommend it as a sole form of yoga practice since, as mentioned earlier, it’s not Yoga in its fullest sense, there’s nothing wrong with a good time.
Additionally, if you’re intimidated by the serious feel of some yoga classes, this is a great way to dip a toe in the yoga pool.
Same thing if you have a friend who says they’re “not the yoga type” but would like to hang out: it’s a good way to have fun with friends and/ or meet new people, but remember while it might be yoga, it’s not Yoga.
FIND OUT MORE:
The Four Paths Yoga
There are styles of yoga, called paths of yoga, that primarily take place off the mat and/ or do not focus on asana as more than one of many tools to still the mind.
Hatha Yoga is one of the four paths of Yoga; the other three paths of Yoga include Bhakti Yoga, Jnana Yoga, and Karma Yoga.
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Written by Valeria Weber Williamson
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