'Rage Yoga' Can Help Turn Anger into Inner Peace

lindsay istace practicing rage yoga 

You know how some people get all zen about yoga, gushing about the serenity of their practice? And how coming to their mat is a spiritual experience akin to an hour at church? If that's not your jam, don't give up just yet. Because maybe Rage Yoga is.


In recent weeks, the Internet's been buzzing about Lindsay Istace, a 24-year-old yoga instructor in Calgary who's started something called Rage Yoga -- "a practice involving stretching, positional exercises, and bad humor, with the goal of attaining good health and to become zen as f**k."

Did we mention the classes are held in a bar?

The concept of dropping f-bombs -- and throwing back a beer or two -- while you're flowing through chaturanga isn't a joke. It's a real thing that's garnered so many "Hell yezzes" that Istace now has a Kickstarter fund to raise enough money so she can expand into online classes.

In an exclusive to The Stir, Istace explained the backstory of her #$%*@#$ brilliant idea and why we can all benefit from letting out our anger.

The Stir: How did you come up with the idea of Rage Yoga?

Lindsay Istace: The original thought was planted during the breakup of a long-term relationship. When it ended, I felt like my entire world was turned upside down. I have had a very strong at-home practice for about five years and [that's] what got me through the breakup.

During this time, my hurt, anger, and confusion started to come out on the mat. There was a lot of screaming, swearing, and shouting. At first, I thought I was just crazy, but it turned out to be incredibly therapeutic.

I joked about my rage practice over Facebook and my friend said she could picture me teaching "Rage Yoga." It sounded ridiculous and too much fun to pass up, so I put together a one-off workshop ... and realized that there was actually something there. It wasn't just a joke, and a lot of people really connected with it.

So I decided to run with the idea and here we are!

The Stir: How is Rage Yoga similar to and different than traditional yoga?

LI: We're still working through the same poses and similar sequences. We're still practicing breath control and mindfulness [and] creating a space for people to reconnect with their minds and bodies on their mats.

It's different because we laugh, swear, yell, and joke a lot more than most conventional practices. What really sets apart our in-person classes here in Calgary is that they're held in a pub and our students can sip a beer during class if they like.

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The Stir: What's the reception to Rage Yoga been like?

LI: Mostly very positive! There are certainly some people who are really against the whole thing, but by far the good outweighs the bad. I had a really touching email from a woman in Ontario who ... opened up about some of the troubles she was facing and that she could really use something like Rage Yoga to help her.

It's wonderful to know that there are people out there who are connecting with my story and my ideas, and that I can make a positive difference for them.

The Stir: Some people would argue that Rage Yoga goes against some traditional yoga principles. What's your response to that?

LI: If you don't like it, don't come. It's that simple.

For those who do connect to the idea, Rage Yoga can be just as beneficial as any yoga practice. For some, it's an awesome gateway into the yoga world, which can be very intimidating. This kind of yoga attracts a lot of people who wouldn't otherwise practice. Some of them may move on to a more traditional practice, who knows?

We also get traditional practitioners who want to mix up their practice with something a little different.

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The Stir: How can someone add the values of Rage Yoga to their at-home practice?

LI: The most important tip I would give would be to practice your breath. We spend so much of the day holding in our guts and using shallow breaths. Learn to incorporate your breaths as you move in and through poses during your practice. In Rage Yoga, we often use our exhales to let out pent-up emotions.

For example, in Warrior I, we often inhale [with] our hands up tall overhead. Then on the exhale, we pull our hands into fists by our hips. The key is to be loud on that exhale, letting out anything you might be bottling. Sometimes it comes out as swears or maybe just sharp air.

There's a ton of different ways you can use the breath therapeutically. This kind of release in combination with yoga can be incredibly effective.

When you create a safe space to use negative emotions in a positive and constructive way, it's easier to be a happier and stronger person off the mat.



Images courtesy of Andre Goulet

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