I’ve mentioned in passing the seemingly burgeoning phenomena of paddleboard yoga. There’s acro-yoga all over the place, too. And who hasn’t heard something about naked yoga.
Here’s a new one, though: Yoga on horseback.
I just happened upon a story about a combination horseback ride and yoga class, which emphasizes “mindfulness.” I bet it does — you don’t want to be doing your Urdhva Dhanurasana and topple five or six feet to the ground.
I’m tempted to highlight the where and what, but that would be unfair, given my attitude toward it. If it works for people, what’s wrong with that, right? And if it doesn’t work — if, to be a bit crass, it’s stupid — then people won’t go back and the program won’t survive.
Here’s a quick description of the class, from a news report:
Using a horse as partner and mat, students will practice breathing techniques and grounded and mounted yoga poses to improve mind-body awareness, create greater flexibility and build soft strength. Classes will end with a short, guided meditation.
I point this out in part because it strikes me as funny. But as I said, if it works, what’s the harm?
Well — maybe this, and the real rationale for this post: It strikes right at the heart of the “what is yoga” debate.
Horseback yoga, acro-yoga, paddleboard yoga all — in my opinion — blur the line pretty significantly. And I assume they are very grounded in just asana, so we are talking about only one of the eight limbs. (Yes, I noted the “guides meditation” mention.)
You know. Yoga. As opposed to Yoga.
I’m not going to spin out this debate, because I don’t see how there ever will be agreement. Is the flow class at the local big chain yoga studio Yoga (as opposed to yoga)? I might say, “No” and someone else would argue vehemently, “Yes.” Should only a class that begins with a collective Om be considered Yoga? You tell me.
What I do think worth noting as part of this on-going discussion is that other forms of exercise — running, spin classes, lifting weights, etc. — don’t seem to have this same issue. I’m not seeing a lot of debate about whether the Sunday morning spin class is something greater than a really hard workout. (Although I’m sure there are “true believers” who will argue it is.)
So that argues in yoga’s favor as not being something you really can just stick on a paddleboard or a horse. (Is there yoga snowboarding?) Of course, if you peel away the layers further, you hit the real crux of the “yoga origins” debate: whether yoga is 5,000 or only 150 years old.
Probably a little of both.
I do have to admit, though, if the horseback yoga explicitly invoked the Horse Sacrifice, I might pay it more attention.
Posted by Steve