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The City Journals

Not your ordinary yoga class: an introduction to glow yoga

Jul 08, 2019 03:25PM ● By Amber Allen

Glow yoga is an open venue with glow-in-the-dark elements and rockin’ music like Led Zeppelin, the Beatles and Radiohead. (Amber Allen/City Journals)

By Amber Allen | [email protected]

Practiced for thousands of years, yoga has made its way into the mainstream. One way that has helped yoga become popular is a practice called glow yoga, a class held in a large, open venue with glow-in-the-dark elements and rockin’ music.  

At glow yoga, tunes by bands like Led Zeppelin, the Beatles and Radiohead take center stage while painted yogis flow through a yoga practice, one made even more challenging by the lack of traditional overhead lighting. Instead, black light fills the room, revealing the clever ways in which those in attendance covered their bodies with glow paint.

The wall at the front of the room is covered with a large mirror. This gives the yoga session a rave-like vibe. The mirror makes it possible for those who are practicing to see their fellow practitioners decked out in their glow paint. 

Black lights make certain colors stand out. The lights also make the invisible visible. Experienced glow yoga attendees often wear white or add the hue in creative ways to stand out more during the event. For example, some yogis don white fishnet stockings that have an especially open weave to accomplish this. Others do so with their regular yoga clothing by choosing ones with light, or white, designs to illuminate their bodies during the session. 

A major part of the glow yoga experience is the music. This means that the session is different from a traditional yoga class. Regular practices held at studios generally feature soft music. At a glow event, the music is usually by one artist or band and loud. To guide attendees, the instructor uses a microphone. 

The glow paint is a fun part of glow yoga. Most sessions are two hours long. Yogis in attendance are given 30 minutes before the practice starts to paint patterns, pictures, words or anything else that they desire on the exposed parts of their bodies. Arms may be covered in tribal designs or creative stripes. It’s common to spot flowers, suns and animals painted in bright colors. 

The cueing – how instructors guide attendees from one pose to the next – is descriptive so yogis of all levels can follow along. Poses include traditional standing positions, seated or reclined stretching poses and challenging balancing poses. Balancing poses are more complicated during glow yoga since they are done in the dark. 

Those who have never tried yoga may feel intimidated since the practice often depicts people in complex twists and difficult-looking balancing poses. Glow yoga doesn’t feed into this stereotype because it introduces the practice at a more basic – and descriptive – level. The dark facilitates this too since attendees are only able to see one another’s glow paint designs instead of their actual form in any given yoga pose.  

Started by yogi James Hardy in 2011, glow yoga was the result of a teacher training assignment required by Hardy’s program. At the time, he preferred to perform his own personal practice next to a home theater sound system while blasting Led Zeppelin. During one of these practices, it occurred to him that this would be a good specialty class. After trying it out with family wearing glow bands for the practice class, glow yoga was born. 

It takes James about a month to plan a Glow Yoga event with help from family and friends. Along with Hardy, glow yoga is taught by Katie Schiffgen, Brooke Femenias and Judd Hardy. Held at the Rose Wagner Performing Arts Center in downtown Salt Lake City, classes are typically scheduled for weekend days.