Rage Yoga is a Calgary-based phenomenon that differs from traditional yoga by allowing participants to relieve their stress and frustrations one bad word at a time.
A Rage Yoga class is similar in movement to a conventional one. But that’s where the resemblance ends.
Rage yogis may let loose with the f-bomb, instead of just grunting and groaning during a workout. ‘Fist-unicorns’ also may make an appeareance.
And the soundtrack isn’t likely to be the usual laid-back bells and guitars. Instead, you might hear some Nine Inch Nails, or Survivor’s Eye of the Tiger.
You might even catch people drinking beer.
“It started out as a joke,” said Lindsay Istace, creator and teacher of Rage Yoga.
“I made a comment to a friend about rage stretching after a break up, and she said that I should teach a class,” Istace recalled in a recent interview.
Rage Yoga has grown from what was once a workshop to a weekly Wednesday class.
The class is now so popular that even Kelly Ripa has talked about it on Live! With Kelly and Michael.
“I’m sure people have sworn a lot during yoga before, but what makes Rage Yoga special is that it’s a weird merriment of taking the conventional yoga attitude and flipping it upside-down,” Istace said.
“We still stick to the general idea of yoga though.”
Rage Yoga classes feature a teamwork element, where certain moves allow participants to come together to do the poses.
Rage yogis are more social that way, and it allows the Rage Yoga community to have stronger bonds.
Istace said she has seen some great friendships develop because of this connectivity.
Rage Yoga also features a segment “Screaming and Giving Up on Life,” which is based on a traditional cleansing breathing technique where yogis exhale forcefully, allowing a bigger intake of fresh air.
“For Rage Yoga, we add in f-bombs and whatever else we need to say to make it extra cleansing.”
Istace said that people who are intimidated by yoga should give Rage Yoga a try.
“Anyone who is a bad-ass or a weirdo is also 100 per cent welcome.”
While the serene and peaceful atmosphere of regular yoga works well for some people, for others, “it seems like a library full of gymnasts.”
The conventional studio can also be intimidating and have a negative effect on self-esteem.
“Rage Yoga lets the people who are naturally loud, flamboyant, silly, and weird, to come and practice,” Istace said.
“It’s a gateway yoga. Some people have gotten comfortable in my class, and then gone on to practice in the more conventional setting.”
Classes take place once a week at Dickens Pub, but there is an on-line platform where Istace posts videos and runs a blog for those worldwide fans, or those who simply can’t make it to the class.
“There are two different six-week online courses people can take at the moment,” Istace said.
“’Foundations’ is the beginner-friendly strength and balancing, and ‘Bendy and Bad-ass’ is more of the flexibility-based stuff.”
Rage Yoga just celebrated its one-year anniversary with a gathering at Dickens Pub where all proceeds went to an Edmonton based charity foundation called Little Warriors.
Istace has had people express interest in Rage Yoga from all over the globe, reaching as far as Iceland, Australia, the U.K. and Hong Kong.
“The reach has been incredible.”
In addition to teaching Rage Yoga, Istace does contact juggling, sword swallowing, fire dancing and eating, contortion and several other side show stunts.
“When you grow up in Saskatchewan, you’ve got to entertain yourself somehow,” she said.
“My time is equally spent between performing and Rage Yoga.”
Rage Yoga runs every Wednesday at Dickens Pub at 1000 9 Ave. S.W. from 6 to 7 p.m.
Each drop in is $12, while limited mat rentals are $2 each.