I don’t think it’s a big secret that my passion is yoga. The asana, the pranayama, the meditation, the focus, the self discovery, the divine connection, I eat it up. My view of what yoga actually is comes from study and practice, and it’s mostly a classical one. So when I was checking out the latest yoga news, I ran across a rather different approach to yoga that intrigued me. YogaSlackers are a group of yoga practitioners who practice their asanas not on a mat, but suspended on a piece of 1” flat, stretchy tubular webbing (like rock climbers use) tensioned between two anchor points above the ground.
Most of the time I would disregard this adaptation of yoga as a fad that has no real relationship to the discipline of yoga. Lately there has been an explosion of practices and people who are adding the term “yoga” onto their approach, from Yoga Facelift to Yogalates, Laughter Yoga to Naked Yoga, and please let’s not forget the Yoga Booty Ballet craze (just writing that brings a tear to my eye). But are any of these practices really yoga? By my definition, no. But these YogaSlackers might be on to something.
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They are a group of adventure yogis exploring the practice of yoga on a thin rope suspended off the ground and discovering “an explosion of consciousness” in the process. I’ve always been intrigued by the level of focus and concentration that goes into these adrenaline-driven “extreme sports” like climbing, slacklining, and kayaking. It just seems logical that purposefully hanging off a rock hundreds of feet above the ground brings you into a state of Samadhi. So when this group of renegade yogis started practicing asana on a slackline, they took this classical practice to new heights. The presentation might be original, but the points of practice seem to be strikingly familiar. For example, concentration and focus seem to be a requirement lest you find yourself crumpled in a ball on the ground because you turned to look at bird or feel the wind, and as far as self discovery and liberation from the mind-stuff, well, just approaching this practice requires you to drop away most of your personal boundaries and surrender to a higher awareness in order to find the freedom instead of becoming paralyzed by fear.
As fascinating as it sounds, though, you probably won’t find me doing ardha chandrasana on a slackline anytime soon. My advice to you is to approach any practice deemed yoga cautiously but with an open mind. Don’t be too quick to assume that just because it says “Yoga” that it comes anywhere close to the constantly evolving discipline that was cognized many millennia ago, but in turn, be aware that the fortitude of this practice comes from it’s ability to change to meet the needs of the current day practitioners. So explore, question, and experiment with this journey of yoga, then tell us all about it!