Lighten Up With Rage Yoga

In Canada, a new style of yoga fuses asana with attitude and anger.

Several different types of yoga are available to you at a 2016 Wanderlust Festival.
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Next-level anger management—or total oxymoron? Just when we think we’ve exhausted the possibilities of unusual yoga-hybrid combos, Rage Yoga is suddenly, well, all the rage in Calgary, Alberta. But don’t be too quick to pass judgment: Lindsay Istace, Rage Yoga’s creator swears by its effectiveness to alleviate stress. Istace had long tried other styles of yoga to no avail, but the seriousness never resonated with her. Despite efforts to find inner quiet, classes she describes on her website as “deadpan” in nature were unable to tame her tumultuous emotion ocean. Thus, Rage Yoga was born.

Much like Boxing Yoga or Black Metal Yoga, at the surface Rage Yoga may seem like the antithesis of what the peaceful practice is supposed to be about. But all three of these eccentric yoga styles do have one thing in common: they’re helping people feel better physically, and channeling unpleasant thoughts and emotions into something positive—despite how it may look or sound on the outside.

Set to heavy metal music, you probably could guess that a Rage Yoga class is loud—like really loud. Using humor, however, Istace curses and shouts as she encourages students to flow their way in and out of challenging poses, giving them a platform to unleash their vexations. Also riding the trend of beer and yoga as a match made in heaven, Rage Yoga is offered at a local Calgarian bar where yogis and patrons can come together as one—and drown their sorrows in asana. Istace hopes to one day take her rage on the road and tour breweries around the country.

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Istace says she developed Rage Yoga while dealing with a painful breakup. According to her website, combining swearing and screaming with her yoga practice helped her overcome addiction and anger issues.

“When you create a space for yourself to be angry and to shout and swear and scream, suddenly it’s hard to take yourself so seriously.

“So it goes from anger to laughter pretty quickly. And we have a lot of that going on here.”

“I find the atmosphere of the class is a lot more easygoing. If you fall over or wobble, you can just sort of laugh through it. You don’t really feel like you’re disturbing some sort of ‘tranquility’ of the class,” she says.

“Some yoga teachers don’t exactly like the approach,” she says with a laugh.”They don’t really think that it’s real yoga, that swearing and drinking beer makes it illegitimate. And that’s fine. Everyone’s entitled to their own opinion. Different things work for different people and not everyone has to be on board.”

Whether or not you consider Rage Yoga a peaceful and relaxing healing modality, we can all agree that as yoga continues to expand across the West it is only inevitable that the practice will evolve and adapt accordingly. Much of yoga’s popularity today can be attributed to many big name studios and teachers who’ve removed the dogma and spirituality, making it more appealing and accessible to the mainstream. For those of us that respect the traditions, recite the Sanskrit and mantras, and pray to the divine—there is a practice for that. And as for everyone else—to each their own. Rage on.

AndreaRiceNewHeadshotAndrea Rice is the Practice and Community Editor for Wanderlust Media. She is also a writer and yoga teacher. Her work has also appeared in The New York Times, Yoga Journal, SONIMA, mindbodygreen, and a variety of online publications. Her teaching style is a blend of her love for music and intuitive movement, with emphasis on core strength. You can find her regular classes at shambhala yoga & dance center in Brooklyn, and often as a guest teacher for Deep House Yoga. Connect with Andrea on Instagram and Twitter.