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What is Punk Rock Yoga®?

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  • Written By: Jessica Ellis
  • Edited By: Lucy Oppenheimer
  • Last Modified Date: 22 September 2014
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Punk Rock Yoga® is a copyrighted yoga philosophy created in 2003 by Kimberlee Jensen Stedl. Jensen Stedl, an instructor based in Seattle, Washington, started the class to provide an alternative, individualistic approach to yoga that removes some of the rigidity and utilizes live music and unusual classroom spaces. Drawing inspiration from Kundalini and Hatha yoga, Jensen Stedl designed the program because she wanted to alter a traditional approach she has called dour and rigid.

Despite its name, Punk Rock Yoga® does not necessarily involve punk rock music. Music of many different genres accompanies the classes, including live performances. In this and many other ways, the class is meant to tear down stereotypes about traditional yoga and attract a wider audience. Even in choosing the name Jensen Stedl hoped to point out there was no reason why a hard-core rocker could not also be a yoga fan.

One of the goals of Punk Rock Yoga® is to eliminate self-consciousness. To prevent self-criticism, lights are purposefully dimmed and the classrooms don't have any mirrors. Instead of a typical formation with advanced students in front and beginners in back, classes are held in a circle to promote unity. Founder Jensen Stedl stresses the use of partner poses as working in teams can promote trust and comfort among classmates.

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Establishing comfort is important to Punk Rock Yoga® as it embraces the individuality of its students. When presenting a yoga pose, instructors offer variations to help people of all sizes and skill levels. Teachers often include time in each lesson for freeform movement, hoping that experimentation with poses will lead the students toward self-discovery.

Another common way to incorporate individuality into a Punk Rock Yoga® class is a chanting exercise called mantra anarchy. In this practice, the instructor chooses a core concept, like strength, and each student chooses their own word that embodies that idea. The class then chants their individual words simultaneously. It is thought that this practice helps students feel more personally connected to the presented concept.

Jensen Stedl insists that the goal of yoga is not to attain perfect physique or to lose weight. Rather than stress the beauty benefits of the poses, Punk Rock Yoga® strives to combine the physicality of yoga with spiritual wisdom. Exercises like chanting and meditation on core yoga concepts help balance the two aspects. Additionally, Punk Rock Yoga® asserts that there is not one right way to do a physical pose and encourages trying out your own ideas.

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indemnifyme
Post 4

@Monika - I don't think your impression of yoga as rigid and serious is totally accurate. You just need to explore some different yoga studios! If you don't have punk rock yoga nearby, don't despair.

And honestly, as a beginner, I think you should look for a more traditional class. You should at least learn the basics before you do it rock'n'roll style!

Monika
Post 3

I've wanted to try yoga for awhile, but I've been very hesitant. The impression I get from a lot of yoga studios is that it's a super serious, do everything a certain way kind of way to exercise. I also can't imagine why the beginner students sit in the back! Shouldn't they be closer to the instructor?

Anyway, punk rock yoga sounds like it's something I would actually be comfortable doing. I think I'm going to see if I have any classes near me.

jennythelib
Post 2

@SailorJerry - It's not as expensive as you might think. There's actually a class near my house that I've been meaning to try. To drop it, it's only a couple of dollars more than the drop-in price at my local Jazzercise center, just to put it in perspective. The cost is about what these these cost!

I like Body Flow, too, although I found it maybe a little too focused on beginner yoga poses. I had done a very similar class in the past, and when I changed gyms and started doing Body Flow I noticed it being a little easier.

For instance, at my old class when we did Swan or Pigeon pose, we were invited to lift our hands to prayer position to challenge ourselves, but the Body Flow instructor doesn't do that. But maybe it's just a local variation (i.e., most people in the class wouldn't be able to do it, so she doesn't bother encouraging it).

SailorJerry
Post 1

This sounds like a fun kind of yoga, but something tells me that the live performances make it awfully expensive!

Something that a lot of gyms have (so more accessible price-wise, especially if you want to do more than belong to a yoga studio) that I've enjoyed is Les Mills Body Flow. It's not only yoga; it's a mix of yoga, tai chi, and Pilates. The classes use modern music and they're very welcoming to people of all ability levels.

I also like how it's designed as a total body workout, which is great for people doing yoga for the health benefits. There's a "standing strength" segment that works your legs, a segment for your abs, one for your back and upper body, plus stretches and twists. Sometimes I do a little hard cardio first, then enjoy the class.

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