As yoga has grown ever more popular, a variety of other physical practices have incorporated it into their repertoire. This has resulted in the rise of “hybrid” or “fusion” yoga classes, which meld yoga with other exercise styles and physical activities including acrobatics, CrossFit, dance, paddleboarding, and Pilates.
These hybrids can challenge the body in new ways and add a mindful component to otherwise more physical practices. They also help introduce more people to the practice of yoga, since it may be less intimidating for someone who has never set foot in a yoga studio to walk into a more comfortable exercise class.
At the same time, it’s important to note that hybrid yoga classes may blur the lines of what yoga actually is (or was meant to be). For this reason, critics have rightfully pointed out that fusion yoga may be culturally appropriative—meaning these classes incorporate only some aspects of yoga without honoring its origins. So as you consider different hybrid yoga classes, it’s a good idea to assess whether they’re respectful of the practice.
Ready to shake up your fitness or yoga routine and learn more about the world of fusion classes? Dip your toes into any of these creative (if not downright wacky) routines.
Take to the air in this anti-gravity yoga practice, which involves practicing fairly standard yoga poses in a totally uncommon way. Instead of on your mat, you’ll be suspended from the ceiling in a silk hammock as you strike a series of poses.
Theoretically, practicing yoga in the air instead of on a mat can offer more freedom of movement, make it easier to modify poses to different ability levels, and challenge the core muscles as you work to remain stabilized. It also requires you to stay focused so you don’t slip out of the hammock—talk about being mindful!
Core Fusion Yoga
This aptly named hybrid is all about building core strength. You’ll do that through a combination of core-conditioning practices including the Lotte Berk Method, Pilates, interval cardio training, ab-sculpting exercises, and (of course) yoga. Some classes also incorporate light weights or dumbbells. It’s a challenging workout that will leave you feeling stronger, more balanced, and more centered.
You can’t make this stuff up. As the name implies, goat yoga (which is sometimes called caprine vinyasa) involves practicing yoga with goats. The idea is to build body awareness, enjoy yourself, and improve balance by practicing yoga postures both in the presence of goats and, sometimes, with those goats perched on top of your body.
For instance, the teacher might place a goat on top of your back while you practice cat-cow, thereby requiring you to become more attuned to your body and engage your core to help the goat stay stabilized. Even if you elect not to place a goat on your body, you’ll still get to enjoy the therapeutic effects inherent to spending time with animals. It’s just as bizarre (and cute!) as it sounds.
HIIT stands for high intensity interval training, which combines fast bursts of intense exercises with short recovery periods so your heart rate stays high throughout the workout and you push your cardiovascular fitness to the limit.
Combining this practice with yoga typically involves striking challenging yoga poses during the recovery periods so your muscles continue to work in different ways. You’ll enjoy strength and balance conditioning from the yoga while upping your cardiovascular fitness with the HIIT. It’s a great way to work your body and your mind in a short period of time: Because they’re so intense, HIIT workouts usually last for 30 minutes or less.
Hip Hop Yoga
You may be accustomed to practicing yoga to the sounds of meditative music or simply the quiet whooshing of your own breath. Hip hop yoga blasts away the silence with—you guessed it!—hip hop music.
Because hip hop tends to be fast-paced, hip hop yoga classes are too. These aerobic, challenging classes are sometimes (but not always) practiced in a heated room. Aficionados of the practice claim that upbeat music helps them stay motivated and keeps them engaged during more challenging flows.
You know how challenging it can be to strike a tree pose or a three-legged down dog without losing your balance? Now picture striking those same poses on a paddleboard. On water. That is moving.
For those looking to seriously challenge their balance, build their core strength, and enjoy yoga from a unique vantage point, SUP yoga is the hybrid practice of your dreams. SUP stands for standup paddleboard, and that’s what you’ll be standing on while moving through a series of yoga poses that may range from mellow to hardcore.
Did we mention that you’ll be on the water? That’s the appeal of this class for many people, who seek out SUP yoga classes for their beautiful surroundings and the peacefulness that bobbing on the water can offer. Bonus: When you’re done sweating it out on your board, you can hop in the water for a post-class cool down.
If SUP yoga is a breeze for you, then it may be time to move on to the challenge of trampoline yoga. As the name suggests, this practice involves striking a variety of yoga poses (and practicing deep, even breaths) while balancing on top of a mini trampoline. Postures are likely to be punctuated with jumping sequences so you can keep your heart pumping.
Practitioners report that they enjoy greater freedom of movement and deeper stretches on the trampoline thanks to the continual bouncing motion. The key to this practice is not taking yourself too seriously—and therein lies one of its main benefits. It’s fun and playful and encourages the little kid in you to enjoy some time in the limelight, all of which can help relieve stress. Plus, research suggests that laughter really is the best medicine!
These creative yoga hybrids certainly aren’t the only fusion classes available, but they help give you a sense of just how many ways you can incorporate yoga into your wellness routine. From acrobats to goat lovers, there truly is a hybrid class for everyone. So go experiment until you’ve settled on the right yogic fusion for you!