Yoga – Which Class Is Right For You?

Yoga is fast becoming one of the most popular fitness genres in the country thanks to due the myriad benefits it offers, which include amazing flexibility, great posture, de-stressing, as well as developing long and strong muscles.

However, many people remain a bit unsure about which type of class is ideal for them. So in the same way as you will find a little card in your favourite box of chocs outlining the flavours, here’s our simple guide to selecting the perfect yoga class for your needs.

Hatha – designed to create equilibrium between the the mind and body by means of various poses and breathing, clearing energy flows promote health and flexibility. It is a more relaxed method of yoga involving a variety of poses to increase flexibilty and strength. It is ideal for beginners all the way up to those at advanced level and tends to be favoured by people who enjoy the relaxation benefits yoga offers, because it is especially good for dealing with stress, quite apart from the physical benefits it confers.

Lyengar – this is a therapeutic form of yoga, concentrating on posture, spinal alignment and helping to improve physical afflictions and illnesses. This type of regime differs from other forms of yoga in that it employs various pieces of equipment like blocks, straps, chairs and blankets to help users reach and maintain poses and postures. It is great for a broad range of participants, from those just starting out, those recovering from injury and people who want to participate in a gentler style of yoga.

Ashtanga – this is very popular in the fitness industry these days.  It involves a great deal more aerobic conditioning than hatha, helping to increase stamina and durability, but it also offers other benefits like detoxing, spinal alignment as well as having an invigorating effect on the mind and body

Bikram – this is probably the most popular kind of yoga at the moment, one we are seeing practiced just about everywhere, involving the temperature in the club or other room where the workout is taking place being cranked up to the max and where the switch from one pose to another is much more athletic and explosive in nature, as you can see from the video below. You are going to sweat a lot during these classes so a towel and lots of water are essential if you want to avoid becoming dehydrated. This type of class is aimed at a reasonably fit person and is not recommended for absolute beginners, pregnant women or people suffering from ailments exacerbated by heat. If in doubt, speak to your doctor and the instructor for their advice before going to the class.

Pump Up The Volume In Quest For Fitness

How often have you been in a night club when your favourite song sparks up and you start dragging your friends up to cut a few shapes out there on the dancefloor?

It is hardly a coincidence that when a less popular song is played the dancefloor just as quickly empties as punters take the opportunity to head for the bar – as human beings we innately react to music. And the same is true when you are doing any sort of exercise regime – your choice of sounds can massively affect just how well you work out.

Ten minutes on a treadmill accompanied by some dreaded muzak can  last a positive eternity with the occasional sips of water feeling like a welcome break. Whereas an hour of exercising with your favourite grooves can make you feel like you are in turbo mode, happily pushing yourself that little bit further.

But why does music affect our performance? Research by experts over the past 20 years has shown that music reduces your perception of getting tired – so you can work out more intensely or for longer.

It has also been proven you can improve your performance when listening to music that stimulates you and it can motivate you to achieve more each time you exercise. If you are a fitness class fan, find one where you love the music the instructor plays. This is sure to keep you working throughout the class, smiling widely and singing along when you can actually breathe.

If you are a gym bunny you can bring BYOB – no, Not Bring Your Own Bottle, but Bring Your Own Beats. Go armed with an MP3 player and playlist for the best training tunes.

When choosing your playlist, think about music that you don’t really need to concentrate on as you should be focussing on your workout instead. It is good to choose tunes that are energetic, really hit your happy buttons. Something with a strong beat like rock or metal and techno tunes are often a top choice.

Anything that brings back good memories or those you can sing along to are firm favourites. Change is always good when it comes to music too. Most class instructors should change their playlist every few weeks. You should regularly update your playlist with new songs to stop things going stale. When you turn up the volume on your music, you are turning up the volume for your workout.

Don’t Skip That Workout!

If you are fed up falling over that medicine ball or other exercise equipment in your spare room then why not switch your attention to skipping? Skipping is a fantastic way to keep in shape – not for nothing is it one of the constituent parts of the exercie regime of boxers and martial artists. But not all skipping ropes are created equally, would you believe. When it comes to getting the best from your skipping exercise it’s got to be the Aeroskip Pro-Gold Speedrope – the choice of champion boxers everywhere.

Fortunately for us mere mortals you can now get your hands on these ropes easily enough together with a helpful and instructive set of two workout DVDs. As well as giving you a fantastic cardiovascular  work, skipping increases co-ordination and endurance, works your core and tests both your lower and upper body. And because just ten minutes working out with the Aeroskip DVD eats up the same number of calories as thirty minutes running, jogging or walking  it makes for a more comfortable prospect than going out for a run on those cold winter monrnings or evenings.


Why Not Jump Your Way To A Fitter You?

Sometimes working out or keeping up any fitness regime can be hard work. You’re tired at the end of a busy day or week and the last thing you feel like doing is hitting the gym. That’s when exercise can feel more of a chore than a pleasure. But, if you feel that way at times – and don’t we all – then help may be at hand. Why don’t you instead release the child within by using a trampoline or rebounder and you could very well soon end up with a washboard stomach and toned legs before you know it. The idea is called “Skyrobics” and it’s currently one of the hottest fitness ideas doing the rounds in California. It comprises a trampoline class offering  an hour of jumping jacks, star jumps, press-ups and “rouncing” (jumping and bouncing).

Its proponents claim you will burn up to 1000 calories per class – not bad for an hours workout!. The uneven, unpredictable nature of the surface means muscles in the core and lower back have to work much harder than normal  in order simply balance. Devotees of the regime argue say it takes up to a third  more energy to exercise on such a surface than it does on hard ground.

If you don’t live in California and still want to get in on the act, trampoline exercise classes in Britain are held at selected Virgin Active gyms. Or if you don’t have a class nearby, why not get your hands on your own rebounder? You don’t need to hog the kids trampoline in the garden, you can pick up a decent, small rebounder on the high street for a modest amount – for instance Argos have several – and then work away to your hearts content in the privacy of your own home. These small rebounders don’t have as unstable a surface on which to exercise as a large trampoline, but they make for a reasonable compromise if there is nothing else available.