Vitality

'Rage Yoga' Class Combines Yoga Poses With Swear Words, Screaming, And Beer

Rage Yoga
Yoga classes are starting to take on a new form as cursing and screaming are added to courses taught in Canada. Photo courtesy of Tim P. Whitby/ Getty Images

The ancient art of yoga has been practiced for over 5,000 years and has morphed into different forms and types of practice. But when yogi Lindsay Istace experienced a “painful breakup of a long-term relationship,” she turned the typically gentle and graceful form of yoga into a cathartic scream fest called “Rage Yoga.”

The Canadian yoga instructor has revamped yoga to target the type of fitness clientele “who want the benefits of yoga but never quite fit in conventional classes,” Istace writes on her site. Beyond developing strength and flexibility, the class is for those who feel limited by the quiet breaths and slow downward dogs because they’ve got a little extra aggression they need to let out.

“You should expect there to be foul language, laughter, and shenanigans. If these offend you, Rage Yoga is not for you,” Istace told Vice. “When I started going to yoga classes, I felt like I didn't really fit in at a lot of those different studios. [They have a] very deadpan, serious, overly serene approach to things. And that's just not how I roll."

Istace encourages her fellow yogis to swear, drink, and flex their way through different sequences. It’s also not unusual for metal music by bands like Metallica and Black Sabbath to play in the background of the typical Rage Yoga class. The newest divergent take on the ancient practice of yoga has only been around since January 2016, but it’s already become in such high demand, Istace launched a Kickstarter campaign to help spread her courses by means of brewery tours across the country. In the end, she was able to raise $7,590, which is 379 percent more than the campaign solicited from donors.  

Istace provides her yogi clients with two different courses offered at Dickens Pub in Calgary, Canada. The first is a more basic, well-rounded course called “Ferocious Foundations,” which focuses on building mobility, strength, and balance. The second course, “Bendy and Badass” helps participants develop “very real measurable flexibility results,” says Istace in a video campaign.

After signing up to try one of the newly branded classes, yogis are handed vouchers for two draft pint beers at discounted prices to encourage them to drink and loosen up. Istace says they don’t have problems with people getting too drunk on the mat, and instead people drink slowly and usually only finish one pint. Even though patrons scream during class, no one has complained about others.

How is this  angry take on such a calm, meditative discipline gaining in popularity so quickly? Istace says it first started when she was angry from her breakup. She was confused, hurt, and swearing more often, and “ my time on the mat became a safe haven for me to let it out while reconnecting with my body.”

It turns out, exercise can reduce anger. According to psychoanalyst Dr. Ken Eisold in Psychology Today, when a person experiences anger as a normal reaction to a situation, even just a bout of frustration, the brain is aroused, energized, and ready to react with fight or flight. Exercise such as Rage Yoga provides a platform for yogis to release any built-up anger or tension within them in a safe and accepting environment. Eisold points to running, which many find is a great way to let off steam.

“The run might be useful not just because it works off some excess energy, but also because it gives you a chance to think about what made you angry in the first place — or what you really want to do about it,” Eisold wrote. “(Angry people) could use some help in understanding the signals that trigger their responses, and finding ways to get their anger under better control.”

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