Are you bored with Bikram? Yawning at yin? It’s time to spice up your yoga practice at one of these alternative yoga classes in Portland. Visitors can do upward dog in a room filled with cats, hold warrior I in a field of frolicking goats or try tree pose in the tasting room of a local brewery. No matter which you choose, it’s sure to be an uplifting experience.
Yoga with animals
Founded in humble Corvallis, 90 minutes southwest of Portland, Goat Yoga has become a global phenomenon since its 2016 creation. NPR, the BBC and the New York Times have all covered this unique form of animal therapy. During this hour-long vinyasa class, friendly goats may hop on your back, nuzzle you or even throw off your balance. Stick around after class for a meet-and-greet with affectionate twins Preston and Quincy and six more pygmy and full-sized goats. On weekends, you can upgrade to an afternoon of class, followed by wine tasting at Emerson Vineyards in Monmouth, 60 miles (97 km) southwest of Portland.
At Purringtons Cat Lounge, animal lovers can relax, enjoy a drink and hang out with furry, adoptable shelter cats. On Sunday evenings, the Northeast Portland cat café hosts Purr Yoga. This hour-long asana is held in a room filled with friendly felines. The class is followed by a half-hour meditation — or 30 minutes of playing with cuddly kitties, if you prefer.
Yoga with substances
Yoga with beer
Portland is home to dozens of studios and more than 75 craft breweries, so it was only a matter of time before someone combined the two. Yoga + Beer leads weekly “detox + retox” classes at brewpubs, including Ecliptic Brewing, Baerlic Brewing, and the Labrewatory. These classes, held every Monday night, feature 75 minutes of all-levels flow followed by snacks and pints for maximum relaxation.
Yoga with cannabis
When recreational marijuana was legalized in Oregon in 2015, it opened the door to plenty of unusual and interesting ventures. Case in point: Buddha Bud Yoga, a twice-monthly class held at Yoga Shala on North Williams Avenue. Participants ages 21 and up consume cannabis together before flexing their way through a series of safe beginner poses. (No headstands or tricky balancing poses here.) Fittingly, each class ends with plenty of tasty snacks.
Yoga for everyone
According to a 2015 survey, 5.5 percent of Portlanders identify as LGBTQ+ (more than any other U.S. metro region except San Francisco). Perhaps it’s no surprise, then, that Portland’s The People’s Yoga hosts a weekly class specifically for queer and transgender individuals. Join teacher Zeyah Rose on Tuesday nights for an hour of trauma-informed instruction and tension-relieving hatha flow.
Yoga for people of color
Held every other Saturday at People’s Co-op, Humans of Color Yoga is a 90-minute class created by and for people of color. Classes begin with introductions and history lessons, and may include discussions of societal issues that people of color face. (Mindful movement and breathing are also prominently featured.)
Yoga off the mat
If you’ve ever dreamed of running away to join the circus, then AcroYoga (that’s acrobatics + yoga) is for you. Portland is home to a robust AcroYoga scene, with classes offered several days a week at venues throughout the city, including Yoga Shala and YoYoYogi. Pro tip: Poses often include balancing on top of another person, so you may want to bring a buddy.
Founded in 2007 and practiced across the country, aerial yoga uses fabric slings to assist and deepen your asana practice. (Imagine stretching in a silky cocoon or dangling upside down in an inverted split.) Portland’s A-WOL Collective offers a wide range of classes in this exciting style, from “basics” and “restorative” to more advanced “flow” and “strength.”