Punk Rock Yoga® is a copyrighted yoga philosophy created in 2003 by Kimberlee Jensen Stedl. Jensen Stedl, an instructor based in Seattle, Washington, started the class to provide an alternative, individualistic approach to yoga that removes some of the rigidity and utilizes live music and unusual classroom spaces. Drawing inspiration from Kundalini and Hatha yoga, Jensen Stedl designed the program because she wanted to alter a traditional approach she has called dour and rigid.
Despite its name, Punk Rock Yoga® does not necessarily involve punk rock music. Music of many different genres accompanies the classes, including live performances. In this and many other ways, the class is meant to tear down stereotypes about traditional yoga and attract a wider audience. Even in choosing the name Jensen Stedl hoped to point out there was no reason why a hard-core rocker could not also be a yoga fan.
One of the goals of Punk Rock Yoga® is to eliminate self-consciousness. To prevent self-criticism, lights are purposefully dimmed and the classrooms don't have any mirrors. Instead of a typical formation with advanced students in front and beginners in back, classes are held in a circle to promote unity. Founder Jensen Stedl stresses the use of partner poses as working in teams can promote trust and comfort among classmates.
Establishing comfort is important to Punk Rock Yoga® as it embraces the individuality of its students. When presenting a yoga pose, instructors offer variations to help people of all sizes and skill levels. Teachers often include time in each lesson for freeform movement, hoping that experimentation with poses will lead the students toward self-discovery.
Another common way to incorporate individuality into a Punk Rock Yoga® class is a chanting exercise called mantra anarchy. In this practice, the instructor chooses a core concept, like strength, and each student chooses their own word that embodies that idea. The class then chants their individual words simultaneously. It is thought that this practice helps students feel more personally connected to the presented concept.
Jensen Stedl insists that the goal of yoga is not to attain perfect physique or to lose weight. Rather than stress the beauty benefits of the poses, Punk Rock Yoga® strives to combine the physicality of yoga with spiritual wisdom. Exercises like chanting and meditation on core yoga concepts help balance the two aspects. Additionally, Punk Rock Yoga® asserts that there is not one right way to do a physical pose and encourages trying out your own ideas.