Now You Can Hit Things as Part Of Your Spiritual Practice

American ingenuity finds its way into every industry, even yoga. It’s just so hard to leave an ancient spiritual practice alone. Oh, sure, yoga is good—even great—as it is, but just imagine how it could be if we added something to it, combined it with something else, packaged it so we could run specials about it on television? Why accept yoga as yoga, when the possibilities are endless?

We’ve seen innovations in the yoga industry for years. Some of the changes fashion new disciplines out of tweaks of traditional forms. Some changes involve more focused marketing, and approaching different consumers. Then there is Box+Flow. Box+Flow is, at the time of this writing, the only yoga studio of its kind, a New York gym that combines a boxing workout with a power yoga session afterwards. There may not be many boxing yoga studios yet, but Box+Flow appears poised to jump-start a new fitness craze, because here’s the upset: people love it!

I have to admit my first reaction to hearing about the combination of boxing and yoga is to ask if they perhaps could not think of two activities more ill-suited to each other and so—shrug—they went with boxing and yoga? Were the proprietors of Box+Flow really trying? Did anybody in on that brand identity meeting bring up curling?

The idea behind the combination of these two disparate activities is that people work out get their aggressions during the two-thirds of class, and use the yoga portion to strength train and clear their minds.

Classes at Box+Flow meet for just under an hour. The first third of the class is spent shadowboxing with small weights (three pounds or less) as a warm-up. Class participants are assigned to their mats and given instruction for shoulder and arm exercises. A brief explanation of basic punching technique rounds out the phase, at the end of which class participants are warmed up and ready to begin. The second part of class is spent working out with bags. Wearing boxing gloves, participants run through a battery of punches and power punches. They work alone and/or with a partner on the heavy bag. The remainder of class is spent “cooling down” doing a session of power yoga in which stretching and strengthening is emphasized. All of the exercises are performed in the same room, a darkly lit space with décor that echoes some of the popular hip-hop yoga studios. The quotes on the wall veer away from rap lyrics and tend toward the inspirational, Rocky theme, e.g. EVERYTHING YOU NEED IS INSIDE.

The classes are popular. High energy, positive, with plenty of interaction between the instructors and the owner of the gym. It turns out that the boxing/yoga combination has attracted a new market, a mostly “not into yoga” market, people who’ve never had much interest in taking yoga classes. These people heard they could hit stuff and listen to Drake, and they decided maybe yoga was okay. Before they found Box+Flow, they didn’t know yoga was like this. They thought yoga was something different, they say.

Indeed.