When Yoga Becomes Dance

If you keep even half an eye on the yoga world, you’ll have noticed new styles of yoga popping up on a near-weekly basis -first there was hot yoga, then aerial, “doga” dog yoga, boxing yoga, Yogging. There are studios dedicated to these styles of yoga, such as the hip hop themed space Y7

This month’s Om Yoga magazine focused on New York yogi and street dancer Tylon Moore. Moore can be found performing in Union Square on weekends as well as in Times Square and Washington Square. His performances, a blend of physical performance and spoken comedy easily draws in a crowd, who often get involved in his stunts. Moore’s freestyle fusion of acrobatic yoga and contortion is a long way from traditional asana, with a completely unique energy. Indeed, there are many that would not recognise Tylon Moore’s performance as yoga at all. 

That’s the thing with yoga; the popular and ever evolving class that we see today is barely recognisable from it’s ancient origins. So where should we draw the line between making yoga accessible to the modern practitioner and respecting tradition? One of the most accepted balances is Ashtanga, and indeed it is from this style of yoga that many of the styles and school of yoga that we love today have come from. To me, I feel that as long as there is some acknowledgement of the evolution of the yoga, and an acceptance of not being able to please everyone, then it is okay. If the class is throwing around chants or spiritual/New Age energy manifestations in a class that is clearly meant to be a “fitness” yoga class, then maybe that doesn’t fit. But there’s no harm in utilising the amazing mind-body benefits of yoga in combination with great music or dance. Movement for pleasure is a primal thing and isn’t stagnant, but an adaptive, living thing. Whilst I can’t see myself backflipping over crowds or contorting myself in the way that Tylon Moore can, I think the expression of his art is amazing and only improved by his study, practice and breath work in yoga.

Where do you stand? Should we stop following yoga fitness fads and encourage students to understand more about the history of yoga? Or is the movement away from the spiritual and subtle side of yoga into a predominantly physical practice just part of it’s adaptation to modern life?

Photos from Y7 yoga.

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