If silent disco is your thing, we have a new fitness trend for you: silent yoga. Imagine wearing headphones with a personalized music track during your next group yoga class. It’s just one of the many flavors of yoga and meditation available today. About 36 million Americans practice yoga, and of those 14 million of them practicing are over the age of 50. People are committed: about 44 percent of yoga practitioners are working out 2–3 times a week. Most astounding, the number of “yogis” increased by over 50 percent in the last four years.

Why the uptick in yoga?

Pressures from everyday life might be fueling yoga’s popularity. Burnout and stress are at an all-time high across all professions, Over a third of say they’re extremely stressed out, according to a study from the American Institute of Stress. Another 77 percent of people experience stress that affects their physical health. Nearly three quarter of all people in the study have stress that impacts their mental health.

Stress is just reason more people are flocking to yoga classes. It’s also fun and evolving as it goes mainstream. Here are some of the hot new trends in yoga.

Five new types of yoga

Silent Yoga

Quick clarification: silent yoga doesn’t mean practicing yoga exercises in silence. Yoga studios wanted to play music outdoors in urban locations, but faced city permits and regulations. To help create a more personalized experience and bring yoga to the rooftops and even mountains, silent yoga took a play from the silent disco world. This is how it works: Participants wear wireless neon lit headsets while the DJ spins music and an instructor guides the practice. Silent yoga is a way for participants to tune in to themselves and tune out the outside noises for distractions. Sunset and sunrise are popular times for these classes to create a visual experience by the neon lit headsets.

Listening to your own sound track achieves a personalized experience.

Active Meditation Yoga

Many people think of meditation as a time for quiet and stillness. But active meditation is really one of the true goals of a yoga life. The new active meditation yoga classes incorporate movement while being in a meditative state. During active meditation, a link is made between consciousness and waking awareness. Active meditation was inspired by guru Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh later known as Osho. Active meditation involves more of the senses senses movement and breathing and carries more into our daily lifestyle by being more mindful. Active meditation encourages meditation while standing in the shower, being on the subway, running and other forms of movement where your mind can be quiet and you can tune in to yourself.

Hot yoga

Although popularized in the 1970’s by Bikram Choudhury in California, hot yoga has become a more mainstream offering for yoga. Today there are studios popping up everywhere offering a ” hot yoga” experience. At Heat 3.0 Pilates and Hot Yoga Studio in Chicago, yoga classes include temperatures from 80 degrees to 105 degrees.

“The temperature really depends on the movements and the type of yoga practiced,” says Kathleen Farrell, an instructor Heat 3.0 Pilates and Hot Yoga Studio. During Flo and yoga classes the temperatures are between 95 and 105 degrees. Hot power yoga, moksha yoga, Bikram yoga and Vinyasa yoga are all forms of hot yoga. Benefits of yoga include calorie burn, improved bone density, cardiovascular fitness and flexibility. But hot yoga classes are considered more effective for weight loss than traditional yoga. The heat also has an effect on how the body uses energy for movement. It also heals, helps prevent injuries, and promotes sweating, which flushes toxins from your body, according to Bikram Yoga practitioners. One caveat: sweat loss can lead to dehydration. So drink water before during and after a hot yoga session.

Hybrid Yoga

When yoga is implemented with a variety of other formats like Pilates, strength training, acrobatics etc. it’s called hybrid yoga. Classes in this space have taken on the experience of workouts that many people enjoy. The main difference is that they also need the time to practice flexibility and more mindfulness. Acro yoga is a combination of acrobatics and yoga where partners work together to create movement patterns.The style of partner yoga helps people bond as well as increase their muscular and core strength.

Another hybrid class is aerial yoga which uses silks draped from the ceiling into hammocks to create deeper yoga stretches and beautiful movement poses. More traditional workouts like Pilates and even CrossFit have been blended into yoga classes. And the extreme workouts of goat yoga, pig yoga and puppy yoga have also entered the scene. These tend to be very popular for social media purposes. While these tend to be a bit hectic, they still improve mindfulness and balance. What makes all of these similar is the focus and attention to breath, mindfulness and movement.

A Sensory-Enhanced Yoga Class applies occupational therapy methods. Photo Credit: The Sensory-Enhanced Yoga® Institute.

Sensory yoga

The goal of sensory yoga is to attain a deeper sense of relaxation and self control. This type of yoga brings the proprioception and interoception together. Proprioception is when your body is in space and interoception is how your body feels in the space. When you have more body awareness through movement, your sensory systems are processing the information and helping the body to relax. Sensory-Enhanced Yoga® comes from the nonprofit Sensory-Enhanced Yoga Institute. It applies techniques from sensory-based occupational therapy and neurobiology and trauma psychology. These methods are designed to address symptoms of PTSD and related quality-of-life factors. In these practices, movements are very slow and controlled so that the participant can be more aware of their bodies’ position in space. Classrooms across America are embracing these simple movement patterns from yoga to help kids behave and perform better in schools.

The more you explore the different kinds of yoga, you realize there is something for everyone!


–Andrea Metcalf

A health and wellness expert, Andrea Metcalf is a best-selling author, certified PersonalTrainer and trusted television personality with appearances on the NBC Today Show, Steve Harvey, and Oprah.com. She is co-owner of Heat 3.0 Pilates Reformer and Hot Yoga Studios in Chicago. A regular contributor to Smart Lifebites, her other stories include Maximize Your Walking Workout  and What stretching can do for you

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