These nontraditional yoga studios are inspiring new ways to practice across the country.
woman in lotus yoga position with small dog jumping up to give her face kisses
Credit: Stocksky; Aleksandra Jankvic

No longer reserved for ultra-bendy juice-bar aficionados, nontraditional yoga classes—um, puppy yoga, anyone!?—are cropping up everywhere. Pull up a mat!

Get Down With (Actual) Dogs

Kaitlin Mueller, founder of OmKai Yoga in Fort Collins, Colorado, discovered there's no better way to create a joyful experience than to tap into puppy power. "It's hard not to smile and laugh during the class when you have puppies running around," she says. Not only is it fun for you, it's also good for the dogs. The pups—all adoptable through Bounce Animal Rescue—get to enjoy some socialization while they roam among the mats. Did we mention: the class takes place at Maxline Brewing, so you can bask in that post-yoga glow with a pint and some extra puppy playtime. (Mueller also runs kitten yoga classes to benefit the Fort Collins Cat Rescue.)

More to Try: Water and Rock Studio (various locations); Caya (Wantagh, NY).

three women in eagle pose - yoga wearing black yoga clothes
Credit: Leah Overstreet

Do Headstands to Heavy Metal

Power Spell Yoga in Nashville is sidestepping the standard chanting-monk soundtrack, instead playing heavy metal in the back room of the Crying Wolf bar, picked for its hard-rock vibe. "There's a misconception that yogis should look and act the same, which can be a turnoff if you feel like you don't fit in," says founder Meghan D'Amico (pictured above, center). So this donation-based practice works to create an inclusive, welcoming space for the city's community of metalheads and punks (and anyone else who'd rather do sun salutations to The Sword). "Our goal is to bring people together to meditate and move—we just happen to also love metal!"

More to Try: Black Widow Yoga (Salem, MA); Stephanie Newkirk Yoga (Portland, OR).

Find Poses That Fit Every Body

Michael Hayes—a "person of size," as he proudly calls himself—created Buddha Body Yoga in New York City to push back on the idea that yoga is just for the svelte. Teachers are trained to give pose adaptations so that larger people are able to successfully and safely practice. In addition to the typical blocks, bolsters and straps, classes also include props to facilitate alignment and provide extra support that you might not find at every studio—like ballet barres, chairs and yoga ropes that clip into the wall.

More to Try: Body Positive Yoga (online); Jessamyn Stanley (various locations).

Rock Om | EatingWell November 2019