Alternative Yoga

Austin's alternative yoga classes: Practice in the water, with your dog or even naked

Austin's alternative yoga: Aqua, doga and even naked classes

Punk rock yoga
Some uniquely Austin ways to practice yoga. Photo by FFF/Black Swan Yoga

We all know how important staying fit is, but sometimes it can get a little boring doing the same old thing. Maybe you are tired of your current training routine, or you just want to add a little something unique to your workout. If you're into yoga  — or even if you just want to try it  — check out these fun, new forms of yoga hitting the Austin scene.

Aqua yoga
What it isAustin Aqua Yoga puts your workout in the water. The water's supportive and healing elements to allow free movement while strengthening muscles and relieving pain and stiffness. It's a fun and gentle form of yoga that anyone can enjoy. Aqua yoga lessons are practiced in a pool heated anywhere from 85 to 90 degrees. The class combines the flowing poses of vinyasa and static strengthening poses. Yoga poses are modified for the pool, using the pool wall and the floor to create stability and a opportunity to strengthen stretch.

Katherine Winge experienced the benefits of aqua yoga herself, and decided to bring it to Austin. "For years I had relied on yoga to keep a healthy state of mind until a recurring back injury kept me from exercising on land," Winge says. "During this painful time, I discovered water yoga after researching low impact exercises. When practicing yoga in the pool I was able to keep my body flexible and mind relaxed without compromising my back. In the warm water I felt a support and a relief from gravity that I could not find on land."

Where to goClasses are offered at several pools around town, including the Town Lake YMCA, Brentwood and Kennemer neighborhood pools.

Paddleboard yoga
What it is: Austin is actually one of the biggest paddleboarding cities around, and doing yoga on the board offers an extra challenge in balance. Say Om Paddle Yoga says that it's a great way to take your practice off the mat and embrace a new challenge. Stand Up Paddleboard (SUP) classes focus on breath and  balance, all while getting out of your comfort zone and soaking in the elements.

Where to goClasses take place four days a week at the Rowing Dock just off Mopac with fantastic dockside concierge service. Rates include the paddleboard rental and professional instruction starting with very beginning levels. All SUP instructors are also certified in first aid and water safety.

What it is: As the name implies, this is yoga for dogs. Or, more correctly, yoga for dogs and their people. In many ways, the main objective of doga is to foster the human-canine bond. Nicole Vykoukal of Austin Doga is a certified yoga teacher and licensed psychotherapist. She says that the practice can provide opportunities for stress reduction, healing and self-acceptance in a safe, supportive environment, while teaching clients to nourish their mind-body-spirit connection.

In doga you renew and reset by practicing gentle yoga poses with your dog by your side. You bond with your dog while you become more relaxed and calm. "There is a growing body of evidence suggesting both our pets and mind-body-spirit integration can increase our mental and physical well-being," says Vykoukal. 

Where to go: Vykoukal offers both private individual and group classes. She also has public classes posted on her website.

Aerial yoga for kids
What it is: Aerial yoga is a form in which the yoga poses are done with the aid of a silk hammock suspended from the ceiling. There have been several yoga studios in Austin offering this in the last few years, but Yogapeutics is the first one to dedicate an aerial yoga studio specifically to children. 

"Chief Aerial Yogini" and founder, Lindsey Lieneck, uses her experience as an Occupational Therapist, change coach and yoga teacher to support parents and their kids in a way that serves the entire family. "I help kids discover the strength of their bodies, the power of their brains and the joy of honoring their authenticity through super fun yoga in silk hammocks," she says.

Where to go: Classes, including private sessions and a mother/daughter series, are held in Lieneck's private in-home studio in Circle C.

Slackline yoga
What it is: Slacklining is a sport that was developed by rock climbers in Yosemite Valley, California during the '70s and '80s. When they were not climbing, they took flat nylon webbing and stretched it between two rocky outcroppings over a void and then learned to walk and balance on this webbing. Slackline is different from tightrope walking because it is dynamic (unlike a tightrope, the slackline moves with you) and requires different muscles and training.

Eventually, yoga enthusiasts embraced slacklining. When stretched over the ground in shorter lengths, the slow movements, positions and muscle workout can be similar to yoga. Unique is definitely the way to describe this form of yoga. While it's often done on a line just inches above the ground, many enthusiasts brave great heights to fix the slackline across bridges, usually above water. A dedicated group has become a regular fixture at Zilker Park most weekends.

Where to go: Visit the group's Facebook group to find out about classes and slackline activities around Austin.

Naked yoga
What it is: This form of yoga isn't new, but it's definitely unique. Austin Naked Yoga was founded in 2004 and holds classes taught by certified instructors. This group is for men, ages 18 and up. Says the website: "Each of us has his own reasons for choosing to practice yoga naked. Some enjoy the greater physical freedom. Some of us want to feel more comfortable in our own skin. Some enjoy the taboo-breaking thrill of getting naked. Still others see nudity as a profound spiritual experience — a shedding of armor and barriers and the social masks we present to the world."

Where to go: There are weekly classes on Monday, Wednesday and Saturday at a couple of different locations in Austin.