Rage Yoga: A Road to Zen Paved With Drinking and Swearing

rage yoga

Since its popularization in the Western world, yoga has taken on various new forms, including goat yoga, aerial yoga, and even nude yoga. You may think you’ve seen and heard it all, but we’re willing to bet you’ve never attended a yoga class that entails drinking, swearing, and explicit music blaring in the background. Lindsay Istace, the founder of Rage Yoga, describes this practice as one involving “breath work, positional exercises, and the expression of raw emotions with the goal of attaining good health and to become zen as f*ck. More than just a practice, Rage Yoga is an attitude and method of connecting you to your most badass self.” Since its genesis, rage yoga has certainly polarized the yogi community, with some believing it to be the best thing since sliced bread, and others finding it to be a distasteful interpretation of a 5,000-year old practice. That being said, rage yoga certainly piqued our curiosity, so we decided to dig a little deeper and find out more about the practice that is making waves throughout the yoga community. 

A Glimpse Into a Boozy, Angry Yoga Class

A traditional yoga session will generally consist of a serene and quiet atmosphere led by a soft-spoken instructor. Yogis move gracefully through their poses with the tranquil accompaniment of soft music humming in the background. A rage yoga session doesn’t look quite like this; in fact, it presents quite a stark contrast. You will most likely hear your yoga instructor tossing rounds of profanities in between pose instructions, and students are encouraged to do the same. Ashley Duzich, a certified Rage Yoga instructor, explains the intention behind swearing in class: “We’re all angry about something, and we’ve all been holding on to an F-bomb for a little too long. [Rage yoga] allows you to have a safe space to let go of your anger and frustration, and rage in a healthy way.” But of course, there is more to the class syllabus than just dropping a few F-bombs. Rage yoga does heavily incorporate traditional yoga poses. Practitioners are led through sequences and assisted throughout their session by certified yoga teachers. In fact, instructors must complete a 200-hour training program before becoming eligible to take the Rage Yoga instructor certification program. Having such guidelines allows yogi beginners to attend rage yoga classes with proper supervision and assistance in place. Just when rage yoga sounds like it may bear some semblance to traditional yoga, booze enters the equation. Rage yoga classes call for “beer breaks” throughout their sessions, providing yogis with some time to quench their thirst between Sun Salutation sequences. Instructor Ashley Duzich’s rage classes are actually held at a brewery, which seems like the perfect one-stop location for rage yoga. What with booze and swearing, the only thing that this affair seems to be missing is the rage music: enter, heavy metal. Perfecting a headstand while head-banging to some heavy metal certainly makes for an interesting yogic technique! 

Rage Yoga is Not for Everyone 

Rage Yoga’s Lindsay Istace explains that although she’d long been keen on attending a yoga class, she felt overwhelmed with fear of feeling out of place. When she did finally build up the courage to get down to a yoga studio, this preconceived intimidation was solidified. “The super-serene and ultra-calm environment works well for a lot of people but it made me feel like I was standing in a library full of gymnasts,” she lamented on the Rage Yoga website. In order to create an accommodating space for like-minded individuals, she came up with the idea of rage yoga. 

The notion of creating a space that will better appeal to certain demographics makes total sense. While everyone requires an outlet to relieve their stress and frustration, not everyone’s ideal outlets come in the form of a composed and tranquil yoga studio. Some of us achieve stress by meditating or reading, while others require socialized fun and a few cocktails to blow off some steam. There is no one-size-fits-all method to achieving inner peace. For many of us, it can take years to discover what works and what doesn’t. 

Benefits of Rage Yoga

Those that heavily embrace traditional yogic principles may not be a fan of rage yoga, but for some people, it may just be a godsend. Psychotherapist Courtney Glashow asserts that cursing can be a viable method of achieving emotional release: “In the right setting, I believe that cursing can allow us to let our anger out.” However, Glashow shares that this method does come with a caveat, as it is “important to know the difference between using curses to express your feelings versus cursing and yelling and losing control to a point that others around you are concerned for your and their safety.” When our stress levels are extremely elevated, we sometimes experience what almost feels like a primal instinct to scream at the top of our lungs, as if to discharge the anger and frustration from our systems. I’m sure many of us have screamed into a pillow at some point or another and discovered some relief in the aftermath. Rage yoga essentially creates a safe and controlled environment for individuals to release their tension with a good battle cry or by profanely expressing previously-stifled grievances. 

When discussing the benefits and effects of yoga, the results are often more analytically substantive than the steps taken to arrive there. Rage yoga does in fact incorporate traditional yoga postures and sequences, and if it takes a little swearing and boozing to attract holdouts to take the leap, then so be it! Flipping the bird whilst in Goddess Pose stance certainly won’t be everyone’s cup of tea, but it’s undoubtedly an outside-the-box concept that is sure to generate intrigue and discussion.

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