Rage Yoga uses screaming, swearing on path to better health

You won't hear a "namaste" at this offbeat yoga practice. Lindsay Istace holds her classes in the corner of a pub, swaps New Age tunes for pounding heavy metal and encourages screaming and swearing.

Calgary yoga practitioner Lindsay Istace uses screaming, swearing and heavy metal during practice

Students combine yoga poses with swear words and profane gestures during a Rage Yoga class at Dickens Pub in Calgary on Feb. 24. (Chris dela Torre/CBC)

This story was originally published Feb. 29.

You won't hear "namaste" even once — prepare yourself for an assortment of words that are a little more colourful.

Instead of a sun-filled  studio, Lindsay Istace's Rage Yoga classes are held in a curtained corner of Dickens Pub — a dimly-lit basement haunt in downtown Calgary.

The serene sounds of new age music that might permeate a conventional yoga class are replaced by pounding heavy metal.

The CBC's Chris dela Torre meets a Calgary woman who is teaching "Rage Yoga" classes in a downtown Calgary pub.

But perhaps Rage Yoga's most distinctive feature is the addition of screamed swear words and offensive gestures like the middle finger as a way to release stress and add a sense of humour to age-old yoga poses.

"I'm a very loud, colourful personality," said Istace, who has been leading the classes on Monday and Wednesday nights since January.

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"I wanted to create a practice that I felt comfortable in, and I knew I wasn't alone."

Rage Yoga founder Lindsay Istace: 'When I started going to yoga classes, I felt like I didn't really fit in at a lot of those different studios. (There's a) very deadpan, serious, overly serene approach to things. And that's just not how I roll.' (Chris dela Torre/CBC)

Unconventional techniques

Istace, who is also a trained contortionist and fire eater, says Rage Yoga is not a new yoga discipline, but brings a more casual attitude to an existing form of the popular health practice.

According to the Rage Yoga website, the movements are based on Vinyasa yoga, but performed at a slower pace. 

"When I started going to yoga classes, I felt like I didn't really fit in at a lot of those different studios," Istace says.

"(There's a) very deadpan, serious, overly serene approach to things. And that's just not how I roll."

Rage Yoga created during painful breakup

Istace says she developed Rage Yoga while dealing with a painful breakup. According to her website, combining swearing and screaming with her yoga practice helped her overcome addiction and anger issues.

"When you create a space for yourself to be angry and to shout and swear and scream, suddenly it's hard to take yourself so seriously.

"So it goes from anger to laughter pretty quickly. And we have a lot of that going on here."

Colleen Trumble, a Rage Yoga regular, tends to agree.

"I find the atmosphere of the class is a lot more easygoing. If you fall over or wobble, you can just sort of laugh through it. You don't really feel like you're disturbing some sort of 'tranquility' of the class," she says.

"With Lindsay's classes, the poses are a lot easier to get into, and I can feel like I can accomplish something."

Inner peace and increased mobility aren't the only potential benefits that come with the $12 drop-in Rage Yoga fee — it also includes a discount on pints of beer at Dickens Pub. (Chris dela Torre/CBC)

Some yoga teachers don't think it's 'real yoga'

Istace typically sees between five and 12 participants per class, and says feedback has been largely positive.

But she admits it's not for everyone.

"Some yoga teachers don't exactly like the approach," she says with a laugh.

"They don't really think that it's real yoga, that swearing and drinking beer makes it illegitimate. And that's fine. Everyone's entitled to their own opinion. Different things work for different people and not everyone has to be on board."

Istace hopes to one day incorporate her practice into tours at various breweries across Canada.