Not sure what style of yoga floats your boat? Try a yoga fusion class to sample different styles and discover what each has to offer. Instructor Lori Shirran teaches a yoga fusion class at South Park YMCA in Halifax that incorporates Hatha, Ashtanga, Kundalini, Anusara and Iyengar styles. Briefly, Hatha means “sun and moon” and many of the poses explore the concept of balance; Ashtanga is a vigorous and athletic form of yoga; Kundalini incorporates a lot of spinal work to explore the chakras; Anusara is a very fluid practice that often focuses on alignment, and Iyengar incorporates props (blocks, straps, ropes) into the practice. A workout may begin with the Kundalini “Breath of Fire” and then move through the Ashtanga primary series, which Shirran sometimes modifies by using props from the Iyengar style. “There’s lots of room for creativity and fun,” Shirran says. The blended workout increases strength, flexibility and coordination, but also shows you how to use breathing effectively to remain calm in stressful situations.
Latin Funk Dance
Get ready to shake your booty at the turbo-charged Latin Funk Dance class at Studeo55 in Vancouver. The class blends seven different styles of Latin dance, along with hip-hop, African, funk and jazz moves. Moving to Latin Funk and Merengue hip-hop music, the dance cardio workout moves fluidly from one style to another. Students may start with Merengue moves, then change to mambo, and then slide-together-step into hip-hop. It’s a great cardio workout, and the different styles tend to work different muscles. Latin moves such as the mambo twist and quick-step work the abs, while a West African dance move that resembles a basketball drill where you squat down low on your toes, arch your back, and move your feet quickly in one spot really gets the legs moving. The class finishes with a dance choreography. “People feel like they are in a music video,” says Gustavo Ferman, the class instructor. After a class, one student told Ferman, “I feel like I just went to Club Med for an hour.”
Yoga and pilates go together like peanut butter and jelly. Honestly. At Yoga Fusion in Hinton, Alta., students begin the Yoga Pilates class with pilates exercises that engage their core muscles (abs and back), such as resting on hands and knees and then extending opposite arm and leg. Students then engage core muscles when executing the Vinyasa flow yoga sequences that build strength and coordination. You might start in downward dog, go forward into plank, down into crocodile and then up to cobra. “I’ll say, ‘Remember to pull bellybutton to spine and engage transverse abdominus’ [a pilates technique], especially with something like downward dog, where there is potential for back problems,” says Kris McCleary, owner of Yoga Fusion. McCleary decided to create a blended class because you need good core strength to do Vinyasa yoga effectively.
The ball fusion class at Fusion Wellness Studio in Cobourg, Ontario isn’t just another aerobic and strength workout. Stability ball exercises, pilates techniques yoga stretches, all spice up the class. As Christina Aguilera, INXS and Rolling Stones set a beat, students begin with a low-impact aerobic warm up and then move into dynamic movements, such as lunges and squats, with or without free weights. Stability ball exercises, such as ball push-ups, are also mixed in. Core stability exercises tie in pilates techniques and yoga-style stretches complete the class. “No matter what combination of moves we do, we cover key muscle groups from upper, lower and core of the body for the perfect workout!” says Helen McCrea, owner of Fusion Wellness Studio.
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