Inhale, reach the hands toward the sky, exhale forward fold — take a sip of beer? Inhale halfway lift, pet the goat, exhale, run the fingertips across the top of the water?
Yes, all of this.
If you’re looking to head outside and mix up (or begin) a regular yoga practice, Maine is the place to start. Alongside traditional yoga styles such as Vinyasa and Bikram, Vacationland’s many studios also offer classes that include disco yoga, beer can yoga, goat yoga and aerial yoga, all of which teachers say are good for the new or veteran yogi.
“It’s easy to get caught up in the mechanistic forms of postures and focus on alignment,” Krista Hastings, owner of Orland-based Yoga DownEast, said. “And alignment is really important, but sometimes you just need to cut loose with your practice.”
The benefits of yoga are nearly endless. The combination of stretching and moving through asanas (poses) along with learning to control the breath has been proven to reduce stress, lower blood pressure and improve flexibility.
But it can be easy to get a routine of repeating the same postures or sequences. Those repetitions, while good for practicing, can become monotonous.
“Isn’t it just good to take your practice out for a spin every now and then?” Hastings said. “Let yourself explore a more dance-y flow or sing your heart out without any concern for how you sound or who you might hear … break out of your yoga rut.”
Holly Twining, the founder of Orono-based Maine Yoga Adventures, said people who take her classes or join for a combination of adventures, such as hiking and yoga, enjoy blending the practice with another activity.
“Going on an interdisciplinary adventure packed with lots of different explorations is a great way to take on yoga for the first time,” Twining said. “It’s simply part of the mix, part of the fun.”
Other nontraditional yoga styles, such as aerial, allow yogis to practice more complex poses, such as inversions, with the assistance of props.
“Aerial yoga allows students to have the opportunity to access poses in a different way,” Christine Mihan, an aerial yoga teacher at Om Land in Brewer, said. “With the support of the hammock, you can try inversions without the fear of falling, find a range of movement without weight in the joint and have support in balances.”
Plus, Milhane said, what’s more fun than rolling around in silks hanging from the ceiling or painting yourself in glitter before practicing?
Don’t have a regular practice but are interested in developing one? Sometimes a nontraditional class may be the best place to start.
“Going into a yoga studio can be very intimidating, especially for someone new to the activity,” she said. “Taking yoga out of the studio takes away some of that fear. Because it is so fun and different, it allows you to release some of your inhibitions and just let go,” she said.
And try out as many teachers and styles as you can find.
“Yoga is not a one-size-fits-all practice,” Hastings said. “Experiment. Be willing to be a beginner for a long time. It’s so much more fun that way.”
Intrigued? Consider one or more of these nontraditional classes this summer.
Moon Offerings: These classes are offered during both the new moon and the full moon. Timed with the lunar cycle, the classes begin with “moon salutations” and a Yoga Nidra meditation practice somewhere between sleep and wakefulness. During the full moon sessions, students will take part in a sound bath featuring gongs and crystal singing bowls which help deepen their state of relaxation. Cost: Depends on the class taken. Location: Orland. For more information: yogadowneast.com
Saturday Night Fun Classes: Whether yogis are decorating themselves with neon body paint and practicing under black light during “Blacklight Neon Flow,” or splitting the class between a power flow (salty) then a half-hour of restorative (sweet) for “Salty & Honey” yoga, these nontraditional classes are set to fun music and usually include a glittery or funky twist. Cost: $20. Location: Orland. For more information: yogadowneast.com
Aerial Yoga: Aerial yoga allows students the opportunity to access poses in a different way than they’d experience on a mat. Using the support of a hammock, a student may try an inversion without the fear of falling or experience a range of movement without weight on the joints. Cost: $18. Location: Brewer. For more information: omlandyoga.com
Beer Can Yoga: Yes, drinking beer during yoga. This event held quarterly at Geaghan Brothers Brewing Company in Brewer incorporates the consumption of a can of beer throughout an hourlong class. Cost: $20. Location: Brewer. For more information: geaghans.com/events
Goat Yoga: Class starts with 15 minutes to visit the goats at Smiling Hill Farm, followed by an hourlong class. The session ends with another 15 minutes to snuggle with the goats. Cost: $14-$20. Location: Westbrook. For more information: ashleyflowersyoga.com
Stand-Up Paddleboard Yoga: Stand-Up Paddle Boarding meets yoga. Move, breathe and meditate from a floating “mat,” which challenges balance and transforms a lake into a studio. No previous paddle boarding or yoga experience needed. Cost: $26. Location: Bar Harbor. For more information: acadiasup.com
This story was originally published in Bangor Metro’s May 2019 issue. To subscribe to the magazine, click here.