Why do health and fitness clubs always promote yoga based classes as “easy”? I find this to be the case even if the style of yoga on the time table is a more challenging type like Ashtanga. There are enough pre-conceptions that prevent people from trying yoga without creating any more barriers.
Look at the boys. They tend to shun fitness classes anyway because they are seen as something the girls go to. But tell them a class is easy and you’ll definitely never get them to give up the treadmill or weights room to give it a try.
And the girls? Labeling it as the more “sedate” class puts off the ladies who are looking for a calorie busting more intense cardio work out.
I wrote recently that there is a type of yoga for everyone. From those styles that include more of the spiritual elements, to those that offer a more physically challenging, strengthening and high heart rate experience. If the latter is what you are looking for the give power yoga a try.
What is power yoga? Well for one thing it isn’t easy. Let me repeat that slowly so the clubs can hear me. It isn’t easy!
I guess it developed as an Americanised version of traditional Ashtanga. Ashtanga can be tough and is always a set series of poses progressing through the so called standing, primary and intermediate series and beyond. Power yoga takes the physical intensity of Ashtanga but introduces variety. No two classes will be the same. You will do different sequences of poses in a different order in each session all linked together by a flow of movement.
There are variations of power yoga across the world. In the US there is Baptiste Power Yoga (named after a famous yoga teacher called Baron Baptiste – it is certainly worth googling his videos and books). In the UK it might appear on timetables as fitness yoga or dynamic yoga.
What is it like? Well you are going to get hot and sweaty and you will be almost constantly on the move. You’ll start with some deep breathing to calm you down and to get some oxygen into the muscles before they begin to work. Then on to some warm up stretches before the hard work begins.
You’ll do anything up to 12 rounds of sun salutations – which is a linked sequence of between 10 and 20 poses each one held for as long as it takes to inhale or exhale. This raises the heart rate, warms up the muscles and prepares you for the main series of exercises.
There will be flowing sequences of standing strength exercises, some balances and moves on the floor to strengthen the tummy, the side abs and the back. Each group of exercises will be linked together by a vinyasa which again is a series of poses similar to part of the sun salutation.
The class will last for between an hour and an hour and a half. At the end you’ll relax for the last few minutes and allow the heart rate to return to it’s normal resting beat. And you’ll need it because your body will have been challenged, the muscles strengthened and stretched.
People who have tried my classes have been surprised how tough it has been. There are times when I will look up to find a few participants taking a break in child’s pose as they get their breath back under control. I often wear a bandana when teaching. Not because I think it is cool, but because I sweat like a tap. And I’ve even seen those doubting weight lifters admitting that it’s tough. Everyone seems to like the results. More strength, flexibility and range of movement in the body.
So clubs. Can we drop the “E” word?
Over to you: Have you tried power yoga? Do you agree that it is quite a good workout. Have you seen results? Please leave a comments and let me know.
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