London - There was a time when yoga was all about breathing heavily on a mountaintop or floor mat while bending in and out of the downward dog.
Sometimes you used a block or a belt. Perhaps, you did it in a roomful of other people. Occasionally there was some incense burning. Perhaps, a little light muzak.
But these days you can’t carry out a sun salutation unless the room temperature is cranked up to 40.5°C, you’re lying on a surfboard or a horse with your pet Jack Russell or your baby crouched upon your back, while you’re tooting on a harmonica for an entire hour and an energising dinner is served up on the floor the very second you’ve hummed your third ohm.
And Fierce Grace, a hot power yoga which combines classical Hatha, sweaty Bikram and Ashtanga Vinyasa, is the latest kid on the bendy block.
Founder Michele Pernetta, a hot yoga teacher for over 20 years, took Bikram to London in 1994, but has now broken away from the teachings of its founder, Bikram Choudhury.
A yoga master who has taught more than 20 000 students in her four studios and all over the world, Pernetta is also a martial arts black belt and a massage therapist who has judged the Bishnu Gosh International Yoga Championships and taught seminars all over Europe.
She describes her new practice as “sequenced in ways that adhere to ancient yogic principles as well as the latest cutting-edge research on attaining optimum results in the minimum amount of time”.
Held in a room heated to 35°C Fierce Grace is a five-class system of interconnecting sequences, based on the same core poses and philosophy, but with a different emphasis or focus.
“Presented in five ways, it is taught in a motivating and no-nonsense way that empowers students to become their own teacher and connects them with the backbone of real spirituality, while getting them super fit and healthy.” – Daily Mail
The five classes of Fierce Grace
Classes are based on a series of core poses, but each has a different emphasis, duration and intensity to suit experience, fitness, schedule, energy level and mood.
Core (75 minutes)
Master the building blocks of a great yoga practice. This class allows beginners and advanced students alike to take the time to address their needs, understand alignment and how to effectively work for maximum results. More hands-on corrections and help for injuries and misalignment. An intense warm-up prepares the body for long, deep stretches to realign, resolve and release.
Classic (80 mins)
A version of the traditional hot yoga class with more hip openers, arm, ab and bum toners for a rounded workout. Based on Pernetta’s 20 years’ experience, the changes to the Bikram system allow the student some freedom to explore, to move into some pose variations and have some fun.
Fierce Grace (80 mins)
A challenging but user-friendly general level class. This class combines the central poses of Bikram, hatha and Ashtanga with twists, core strengthening, interval-training wisdom, groan-inducing abdominal work, hip openers and floor stretches to relax the body and mind. Performed to music.
Fierce (aka The Beast) – 1hr 45 mins)
An advanced class that takes students to the next level in strength, flexibility, balance, patience and sense of humour. The class includes arm balancing, inversions, lotus poses and deep back bends.
The Fix (50 mins)
A high-octane caffeine injection for the motivated person on a tight schedule. An effective, no-frills yoga fitness regimen, this 50-minute class combines cardiovascular sweat-inducing poses, strength, flexibility, body sculpting, and stress-release through breathing and relaxation. Thirty minutes standing, 20 minutes floor work to leave you revitalised and raring to go.
Which yoga is the most unusual?
Thought to relax babies, help parents bond with their new child, encourage deep sleep and promote healthy digestion, baby yoga is becoming increasingly popular among families.
Encouraging young children to practice supervised yoga helps them develop flexibility and core strength from an early age. Yoga has also been shown to be effective in the treatment of sickness in children, from reduction in headaches to improved concentration. Studies show children on the autistic spectrum benefit from yoga practice.
Known as “doga”, doing yoga with your dog is said to appeal to your pet’s natural instinct to stretch and has become a new fad among New York dog-owners who believe it creates a unique bonding experience. Classes involve stretching, massage and even chanting – at a pitch the dogs can mimic.
Practiced in a hammock, anti-gravity yoga was created by gymnasts but has been modified and enhanced to fit into the yoga mold and cater to the everyday athlete. It aims to get you in shape while realigning you from the compression of gravity.
The concept of laughter yoga is based on the idea that the body cannot differentiate between fake and real laughter: one gets the same physiological and psychological benefits. Clinical research conducted at Bangalore, India and America has proved that laughter lowers the level of stress hormones such as epinephrine and cortisol.
HOT POD YOGA
Vinyasa yoga is Practiced in a heated inflatable room, allowing teachers to travel. Warmth helps the body quickly enter the practice, warming the muscles and aiding flexibility. Throughout the class it makes the heart work harder, increases the soothing nature of the environment and helps bring us out in a good sweat, so you get maximum benefits in a relatively short time.
The brainchild of Juliet Murrell, a successful set designer in the fashion, film and design industry who qualified as a yoga instructor to restore her natural energy levels, which had been depleted by post-viral chronic fatigue. Identifying a niche for a more expressive, energetic style of yoga, Juliet went on to create Voga, a stretching and posing routine set to an iconic 80s beat. – Daily Mail