What Is Buti Yoga? Origins, Benefits & Controversy


Traditionally, each yoga asana is steeped in spiritual philosophy and ancient cultural ties. Buti Yoga however, is something quite different.

Far from a traditional yoga practice, Buti Yoga is a vigorous and dynamic workout that is designed to get your heart rate pumping, and provide a challenging cardio experience.

By combining yoga poses with cardio and strength training, Buti Yoga is geared towards toning muscles and burning calories rather than a spiritual practice in line with yogic philosophy.

For this reason, Buti Yoga has had a mixed reception, with many proponents praising its benefits while others criticize its appropriation of yogic tradition.

In this article, we’ll take a look at:

  • The origins of Buti Yoga
  • What is Buti Yoga & its benefits
  • What to expect in a class
a group of women dancing in gym clothes to buti yoga

Origins Of Buti Yoga

Created by renowned trainer Bizzie Gold in the early 2010s, Buti Yoga is a fairly new form of yoga that challenges many traditional ideas many hold about the practice.

Fusing yoga with fitness, dance and female empowerment, Gold was inspired to create this new style by the experience and passion she garnered as a professional dancer and yoga instructor, which she considered to be complimentary practices.

The Buti Yoga fusion is a wild mix of yoga, tribal dance, and movement each inspired by cultures from Africa, and Native America, to the Middle East.

The unique resulting combination of asanas, cardio, and strength training with the fluid expression of tribal dance creates a truly one-of-a-kind workout – certainly one way to shake up your usual yoga routine.

Bizzie’s Buti Yoga is all designed to empower individuals by making them stronger, both physically and mentally, while also encouraging self-expression and a deeper connection with oneself. Basically, it’s like a power-up for your body and mind.

Finding traditional yoga too relaxed for her taste while gym classes lacked any spiritual and mental connection, Gold decided to shake things up and create a brand new workout that she considers to be the perfect balance of sweat and serenity.

In 2013, Bizzie Gold began to certify other instructors to teach Buti Yoga, and it has since spread to studios and gyms across the United States and internationally.

two people dancing

so what Is buti Yoga?

Now we know a little about the origins of Buti Yoga, time to look a little closer into what the practice entails.

The Word ‘Buti’

Buti is a term of Indian origin, specifically from the Marathi language, that has a deep cultural meaning.

Translated as “the cure to something that’s been hidden away or secret” in Marathi.

This term encapsulates Gold’s intention with Buti Yoga, as a practice aiming to help individuals discover and unlock their hidden potential and unleash their inner power.

The Practice

Buti Yoga is a holistic practice that is tagged as a full-body workout, compiled of multiple elements.

Many people who have experienced Buti Yoga rave about the positive effects it has on their mental well-being. They report feeling inspired, energized, and empowered in ways they haven’t felt in a while.

Built around a foundation of traditional yoga poses, Buti Yoga incorporates classical moves such as warrior pose and downward-facing dog, which are then fused with high-intensity cardio and ‘tribal’ dance movements.

Advocates of Buti Yoga state this combination of techniques helps to sculpt and tone the entire body, activating the core, legs, and arms, making it an effective way to elevate overall fitness.

Bizzie Gold designed the movement-based sequences in Buti Yoga to challenge both the body and mind, helping individuals to push themselves beyond their limits. The practice and sessions are created to encourage attendees to let go of their inhibitions, and get in touch with themselves whilst breaking a sweat.

a group of women dancing in gym clothes to buti yoga or zumba

YouAligned, a reputable source in the yoga community, describes Buti Yoga as a potent and unique blend of different elements. It is characterized as a combination of “tribal dance and primal movements, plyometrics and vinyasa-style yoga.”

The same statement also describes Buti Yoga as specifically targeted towards “boss babes” and individuals who are comfortable with their sexuality. This highlights the empowering and inclusive intention of the practice, encouraging individuals of all genders to embrace their inner strength and express themselves freely.

Mental and Physical Health Benefits

The classes are super intense, and will have you burning tons of calories – between 800 to 1000 per session. However, Buti Yoga is a practice designed to go beyond physical fitness, with one of its key features an emphasis on self-empowerment and body positivity.

  • The practice encourages individuals to celebrate their bodies and embrace their unique abilities, rather than comparing themselves to others.
  • The big, unencumbered movements in Buti Yoga, such as arm and leg-swinging, are thought to individuals to shake out anxieties and fears, promoting physical and emotional release.
  • In a session you can expect to be releasing loads of endorphins whilst your blood is pumping, which can help to improve mood and overall well-being.
  • According to Bizzie Gold, students can expect a fully immersive mind-body experience that combines a beat-blended musical journey with a challenging and dynamic workout.
  • The classes are designed to leave students feeling sweat-drenched and smiling, both physically and mentally invigorated. The focus is on getting lost in the moment and the movements, having a good time busting a move, rather than on the outcome of the workout.
  • Bizzie Gold emphasizes the importance of community and belonging, viewing the practice as a “practice of we”. The practice reminds individuals at a deep core level that they belong, and the physical benefits such as six-pack abs become a pleasant side effect.
a group of women dancing in gym clothes to buti yoga

What To expect in a buti Yoga Class

The workouts are made to be fast and fun, and can last anywhere from a quick 20 minutes, to a more substantial 80 minutes.

The sessions include a mix of yoga poses such as warrior pose, as well as activating movements like squats, pulsing through planks, lunges, hip circles, chaturanga push-ups, and leaps.

The lights are usually low, music high, and instructors work to bring you into the moment, this creates a more immersive experience that helps to keep your mind engaged and focused on the fun and sweat, encouraging you to forget about those around you.

The classes are held in a studio with mirrors on the walls, which are intended to help students visually see their abdominal muscles and to know when they are fully activated and when they are not.

The clothing worn by students is usually shorts and sports bras, this is intentional, but if that makes anyone uncomfortable, they are free to wear whatever clothes they are most comfortable in.

a group of women dancing in gym clothes to buti yoga

Moves you can expect in a Buti Yoga session

  • Climber: working the abdominal muscles, arms, back, and legs. You start in plank position, and breath in to engage the core, dropping your hips simultaneously. You then breath out, lift your hips, round your back upwards, life your head, and move your knees alternately towards the chest.
  • “Break It Down”: working the abdominal muscles, back, butt and legs. You start with your feet shoulder length apart, bend over whilst keeping your legs straight. You engage and pivot your feet to the left, bending both knees. You then drop your right knee towards the center, and with palms on the floor you hop backwards alternately.
  • Slide exercise: working the legs, shoulders, abdominal muscles, and butt. You squat with your feet together, bending forward slightly. Keeping your palms in front of your chest, you hop your right leg out to the side, keeping your toes touching the ground. Maintaining the squat, you need to extend an arm diagonally overhead, with the other falling to the side, in alternation.

This is only a small selection of moves in Buti Yoga, and generally each movement is given under a minute before you would swap out to another movement. It’s also based on the individuals in the class and their potential for pace!

a group of women in a gym class doing squats

Buti Yoga Controversy

Buti Yoga, while gaining popularity among fitness enthusiasts, has faced criticism from some members of the yoga community for being a form of cultural appropriation of Indian culture.

It’s generally widely accepted that Buti Yoga does not incorporate the spiritual and mental practices of traditional yoga, with the combination of aerobic exercise and yoga moves making it vastly different from the yoga practices that have been around for thousands of years.

This has lead many to argue that it constitutes a cheap commodification and erasure of Indian culture.

Buti Yoga came under some controversy specifically with fire from yogi Shiva Rea, stipulating that Gold was marketing a collection of ancient practices as ‘new’. Bizzie Gold replied with an open letter to Shiva Rea to address the controversy.

If You Want To Get Involved

If you want to learn more about Buti Yoga, stream an online workout from your home, or even get involved with a teacher training program, check out their website here.

Photo of author
Tish Qvortrup is a Brighton-born Yogi, with a passion for living intentionally. A Yoga Alliance registered 500hr teacher, she found her calling in Yin and Yang yoga. In her spare time, she loves exploring the outdoors and cooking plant-based goodies.

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