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Fun Fitness Fusion

Mind-body exercise

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Fun Fitness Fusion

Yoga is being combined with other fitness activities to create fusion workouts. Yoga fusion provides a complete mind body workout.

Over the last 15 years the fitness industry has witnessed many changes in the way it prescribes exercise and teaches classes. Fitness trainers need to keep things constantly fresh and exciting to inspire and motivate people—because a bored participant will soon become a drop-out participant!

One way to keep fitness interesting is to fuse different types of workouts together. Take yoga and Pilates, for example. Years ago, yoga was performed mainly by those dedicated to living the life of yoga, and Pilates was a regimen only practised by an elite few.

However, as people experimented with different types of workouts, elements that people enjoyed in one form of exercise slowly appeared in other programs, creating interesting new fusions.

Om for a strong core

One of the most popular fusions today is yoga and Pilates. Although quite different workouts—yoga is more of a mind-body connection performed on a mat, while traditional Pilates focuses on strengthening and toning and uses machines called reformers—both modalities work on creating a flexible body, a stronger core, and a sense of well-being. Fuse the two together and you have a powerful workout.

If you are unable to find a class near you, there are a number of DVDs that have successfully fused yoga and Pilates. Some popular ones include: Yoga-Pilates Fusion by Kathy Ackerman (Energy Oasis/Silver Line Productions, 2007); Yoga & Pilates: Total Body Toner by Louise Solomon (Platinum Disc, 2004); and Stott Pilates: Pilates-Infused Yoga by PJ O’Clair (Merrithew Entertainment, 2004).

Spin your sun salutations

Ten years ago you wouldn’t dream of combining a hard-core bike ride with a downward dog, but such is the case with workouts such as Cy-Yo and other yoga/indoor cycling blends. These workouts usually start and end with a yoga routine and sandwich a 30 to 40 minute indoor cycling class in between.

As a spin instructor, I think this approach is fantastic. You not only reap the benefits of a spin class (where the average calorie burn is 300 to 600 calories a class), you also enjoy a deep stretch and an opportunity to focus your mind, body, and spirit afterward.

These fusions are also advantageous because spin classes usually attract a certain type of clientele (those who like to go hard and sweat, as opposed to those who like to take it slow and meditate), and these blended classes introduce yoga to people who might not otherwise take a class.

Once there, they will be surprised to learn that yoga is not simply sitting cross-legged with their eyes closed and chanting—it is a real workout, and anyone can reap the benefits.

Flow push-ups

YogaFit has probably been around the longest of the fused mind-body programs. This program fuses traditional fitness exercises such as push-ups, squats, and sit-ups with a flowing yoga routine.

This workout is not for the true yogi, but instead for the fitness enthusiast who is simply there for a good workout and doesn’t really care what the Sanskrit names are for each of the poses.

YogaFit offers a user-friendly approach to yoga moves, and is good for individuals of varying fitness levels. For those who just can’t imagine that they could get a “real” workout without strength training exercises, it offers an effective compromise.

Try it out

Want to try a move or two before you head to classes or get a DVD? Give yourself a taste of a mind-body workout with these two movements, remembering that whatever fusion you enjoy, the key is to keep the body moving! Your body is the only place you have to live for the rest of your life—so keep it healthy.


Yoga for Pilates abs

Perform this exercise slowly to combine the benefits of yoga and Pilates.

  • Sit on a mat on the floor, perfectly straight with your knees bent and feet flat on the floor.
  • Squeeze knees together and draw yourself up as if you were a puppet on a string and the puppet master above is pulling those strings taut. Envision stacking each vertebra one on top of the other.
  • Extend your arms straight out in front of you, in line with your shoulders.
  • As you inhale, slowly lean back, keeping your spine perfectly straight, halfway down to the mat. Pause at the halfway point and then exhale and lean back up again to original position.
  • Aim for 8 to 10 repetitions.
  • To make this exercise easier, wrap your hands around your thighs to assist you as you come back up. To add challenge, lift your arms higher so that they are pressing against your ears throughout the movement.

Yoga for cycling

*Tabletop position: your shoulders, hips, and knees should all be in one line, with your hands and arms under your shoulders and your feet right under your knees.

If you cycle or go to your local spin class on a weekly basis, try this yoga-inspired move to open up the chest and shoulders, as well as work on the hamstrings and glutes.

  • Sit cross-legged with your hands resting on your knees. Inhale and arch your back, lifting your chest and looking up to the ceiling with your head. Pause, and then exhale, rounding your back in, tucking in the chin, and drawing your navel to the back of your spine. Perform 4 to 6 times.
  • Come back to centre and reach your hands behind you and place your feet forward, planting them firmly on the ground.
  • Draw your navel in toward your spine and lift up your hips into a full tabletop position.* Aim for 4 to 6 cycles. 
  • Open up the chest and shoulders while looking up to the ceiling. Inhale and hold. Exhale and lower the hips back to start.
  • Inhale and lift up the hips again, then exhale and lower.

Yoga for strength

Try this yoga-inspired push-up to increase the strength of your arms, chest, shoulders, and core.

  • Lie face down with your hands directly under your shoulders, fingertips pointed straight ahead (for less stress on the wrist joints), and your fingers spread wide open.
  • Draw your belly button in toward your spine, engaging your abdominals, and pull your shoulders down and slightly together.
  • Maintaining this posture, slowly lift yourself up into a full plank position, keeping your body in line (head, shoulders, hips, and ankles in one straight line). Pause, feeling your abdominals work to hold your plank position.
  • Lower slowly, dropping into a push-up until your chest is just a few inches off the floor, and pause there for a breath.
  • Push yourself back up for another repetition.
  • Try to get 3 to 5 good repetitions in and build on that number each week.
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