Paramahansa Yogananda, author of Autobiography of a Yogi, is currently rolling in his grave. As is B.K.S. Iyengar. Bikram Choudhury, on the other hand, is just rolling his eyes as he sweats somewhere, deep in a yoga pose. Why all this collective yogi disdain? They must have heard about Rage Yoga, the latest "brain baby" (her words, not ours) of Lindsay-Marie Istace.
Istace is now holding Rage Yoga classes in the dimly lit basement of Dickens, a bar in Calgary, Canada. "You should expect there to be foul language, laughter, and shenanigans. If these offend you, Rage Yoga is not for you." Istace promises that her special brand of yoga will leave you "zen as fuck."
By the way, when you sign up, you get tickets for two draft pints at the discounted price of $4.00 each. Classes have been held on Monday and Wednesday nights since January.
Istace is a contortionist, fire-eater, and juggler who bills herself as a "full-time entertainer." She told CBC News, "When I started going to yoga classes, I felt like I didn't really fit in at a lot of those different studios. [They have a] very deadpan, serious, overly serene approach to things. And that's just not how I roll."
Istace explained to MUNCHIES that the idea came to her "during the really painful breakup of a long term relationship." She says she felt as though her "entire world was breaking down" and thus her yoga practice took on a new tone: "During that time my practice became a lot more swear-y. I was angry, hurt, confused, and my time on the mat became a safe haven for me to let it out while reconnecting with my body."
A business was thus born. Istace explains, "I joked with some friends over social media about me practicing Rage Yoga and suddenly that turned into a one-time yoga workshop." Since then, the workshop has taken off and became a regular event at Dickens. "It was a lot of fun and a lot of people connected with the idea," Istace said.
Although it may seem strange to practice yoga at a bar, Istace says, "Dickens is a funky basement bar with a lot of regulars and a strong sense of community. The regular bar patrons have been super-respectful." She explains that once in a while a patron of the bar will peek into the class, but generally, "they fuck off once they realize it's a private yoga class." All in all, Istace says, "The general feeling of the bar is super-accepting!"
And how does beer mix with yoga? "We don't have problems with people getting drunk," Istace told us. Although her students are allowed to drink when they want—before, during or after class—she says, "At most, participants might finish a pint during class."
On the topic of alcohol and yoga, Istace says Rage Yoga helped her deal with her own addiction problems. And she claims it actually has an ameliorative effect on her students: "As soon as people get into the sequences they tend to naturally drink slowly."
Sounds like an exercise fit for both your aspiring inner Dio and your Hemingway side alike. The ancient art of yoga may never be the same again.