It seems that not too long ago there were only a few deviating factors between yoga practices: It was either a hot room (Bikram), a flow of fluid intense movement (Astanga/Vinyasa), a variety of props to ensure proper alignment (Iyengar) or classes using passive poses to help relax and soothe the nerves (restorative).
Now, an entirely new variety of classes are creatively fusing strength training (such as weights, power cycling or pilates) into yoga.
While some of these classes are being greeted with resistance by traditional yogis, strength training and yoga share many mental and physical goals/benefits: feeling calm, strong, refreshed, rejuvenated — and liberated.
Yogis may also benefit from more than just a change in routine as the lean muscle tissue created through strength training has a long-term impact on metabolism. According to the IDEA Health & Fitness Association, for each pound of muscle you gain, you’ll burn 35-50 more calories per day, even at rest.
Research by IDEA also found that strength training can increase spinal bone mineral density by 13 percent in six months, making it a powerful tool to reduce the risk of osteoporosis.
To get you started, following are a few of Yoga Simple’s favorite fusion classes:
Power Cycling/Yoga Fusion @ Lotus Kitty
Class Info: Power Cycling/Yoga Fusion @ Lotus Kitty
The class description reads: A 30-30 hybrid class paced to music. This class begins with 30 minutes of Power Cycling and is followed by 30 minutes of yoga. The yoga portion of the class focuses on lengthening the body that becomes compressed during cycling and adds strong body sculpting standing poses, hip openers, core work and deep stretching. This 30-30 combo is the best of both practices and creates a tailored workout that will lengthen and strengthen your physical body all while providing you with the calmness associated with yoga.
YS Review: Even before you walk into Lotus Kitty, the staff is welcoming and helpful: (I called while sitting in traffic, letting them know I may be a few minutes late for class, but told not to worry — as well as exactly where I should park☺)
Walking into the studio a bit frazzled, I was greeted with a sense that I just arrived into a very gracious community. Despite not having been on a bike for years, Vanessa put me at ease, while making sure my bike was set up properly.
I sweated bricks through the rigorous 30-minute cycling session. But Vanessa’s energizing zen enthusiasm that was with both breath and heart not only kept me going, but kept me upbeat — and smiling.
During the yoga session, she offered equally solid speak about detoxing (which was the theme to the class), ending with a wonderfully cleansing rosemary oil — also known for its ability to lift the spirit.
I felt the positive mental, emotional and physical benefits for days on end…
Power Sculpt @ CorePower Yoga
Class Info: Power Sculpt @ CorePower Yoga
The class description reads: CorePower Yoga Sculpt is a total body workout designed to tone and sculpt every major muscle group. Dumbbells, body bars and free weights serve as your own personal adjuster as you move through sun salutations and other yoga postures, enabling extra length and depth in each pose.
YS Review: From the moment you walk into CorePower, you feel energy. There is music, there are lots of people – things are happening! Megan greeted me with a beaming smile behind the desk — and then cheerfully showed me where to grab weights (despite the growing line).
Megan started with a series of asanas without weights, which provided a good warm-up to the addition of free weights. The weight sequences included a variety of weight reps, including bicep curls in Warrior II, half-lat pulls in horse pose, wide back rows in lunge pose — and many more. The sequences were broken up with some intense core work, as well as some serious squats. All in all it was a well-rounded, fun and sweaty work-out – and Megan kept us all going strong with her contagious enthusiasm and smile.
Yogalates @ Yoga Soup
Class Info: Yogalates @ Yoga Soup
The class description reads: When our deeper connections and musculature take on the role of being strong, our more superficial muscles can relax and do not have to fulfill that role. When we are strong at the core and pliable, flexible and supple on the surface; we enhance our natural and inherent ability to flow and move with ease and grace. The blend of Yoga mindfulness and flow, combined with Pilates focus and precision can be a dynamic duo to cultivate this balance.
YS Review: As soon as you enter Yoga Soup, you know you’ve arrived at a place that is going to nourish your soul. The studio is serene, quiet, introspective. As I wait for class, I can’t resist taking a bite of one of the beautiful home-grown carrots sitting out for others to enjoy.
Having never taken a Pilates class, I expected machines of some kind that would hang me upside down. But as Kelsey started us with a meditation that focused on breath, I quickly picked up on the fact that there was not going to be any of that.
After a few yoga sequences, we got into the more intense Pilates session. Even though my butt and core were pounding, it flowed so naturally that it didn’t feel intense (until the next day). Kelsey concluded with an amazing 10-minute guided meditation.
I have done a lot of yoga and taken a lot of different types of classes, but never have I experienced such the yin and yang of being so energized and yet totally relaxed.
With all the different personalities, proclivities and stations in life among those who are practicing (especially those that have just begun this journey), I’m loving these new yoga infused paths to discover this end goal of liberation.
Let’s not forget that when we speak of yoga, we speak of a multitude of paths and orientations. In fact, the Buddha himself is reputed to have said that there are more than 84,000 Dharma Gates (practices for attaining liberation), so I’d say there is room for even a few more.