Yoga. It sounds so serene, so calming, so…. so not a workout, right? Not quite. Not if you do certain types of Yoga. I tried out Power Vinyasa Yoga with Lauren Mensikovas and lemme tell you something, that was nothing short of a hard workout.
I sweated. And it wasn’t Bikram-style heat-induced sweating… it was OMG-this-is-tough-sweating. My arms were shaking and really tired afterwards, my legs were a bit wobbly and my abs took a few days to forgive me. Even some deep muscles hidden way back in my hips and pelvis were a bit otherwise with me for a few days after the class.
But was it fun? Hells yeah. It was so much of fun. As much fun as you can have silently contorting your body into different positions in a room full of strangers doing the same thing and quietly sweating and gently huffing. It was also ridiculously invigorating, and it set the tone for my whole day afterwards.
The nitty gritty
But what IS Power Vinyasa? According to Lauren it’s a “dynamic style of yoga blending steady poses and flowing sequences, linking breath to movement and opening you up to more energy, vitality and flexibility in your life. It is an invigorating form of yoga that works for all body types and physical abilities working at your own level of fitness, doing just what you can”.
Couldn’t have put it better myself. I had a young man of about 13 next to me on one side and a rather supple granny on the other side of me… and there were a lot more men in the yoga class than I have ever experienced before. Which is fantastic, perhaps more men are finally realising the amazing benefits yoga has to offer.
The flowing style of Power Vinyasa made the class really interesting, just when you were getting comfortable the position changes and becomes more challenging. Lauren says she finds this form of yoga “the perfect blend of endurance, strength and freedom to play”. And she’s right. I consider myself quite strong, but I found a lot of the positions very challenging. Not that I didn’t try the harder ones (there is always an easier option), cause where would be the fun in not trying the hard stuff… it looks so cool….
Why you should do yoga
The list is endless with regards to the benefits of yoga, and listing them would take forever. Suffice to say it’s good for mind, body and spirit. Although Lauren adds that she finds yoga improves physical strength, improves concentration, is great for stress relief and has a positive impact on overall physical, mental and emotional health.
“Yoga can help us all in many ways, and with a regular practice, we can see improved muscle tone, flexibility, strength and stamina as well as helping with weight loss. It improves circulation and stimulates the immune system. It reduces stress and tension as well as improving concentration and clarity. It can help to boost self esteem and help us find a sense of well being and calm.”
Learning from yoga
Unlike many other exercise programmes or fitness regimes, once the yoga bug bites, it bites hard and deep and it’s very hard to shake off the feeling of accomplishment once you’ve finished a class.
Lauren, a self-confessed yoga addict, says that it’s had such a profound effect on her life in many ways.
“From a physical perspective, it has helped me change my body enormously. I am the strongest I’ve ever been. I also used to be a lot heavier and through yoga, I’ve learned to respect and care for my body and by being kinder to my body and enduring the physical intensity of the practice, I’ve managed to keep my body in much better condition, helping the weight to come off.
“My yoga practice started to take me much deeper than just experiencing a physical change – I became more aware of how I treated people and most importantly, how I treated myself. I saw how important it is to practice non violence towards yourself, your body and towards others.
“It had a huge impact on my body and the connection to my daughter while I was pregnant. I practiced right till the very end of my pregnancy and believe it to be a huge part of why I had such a healthy, easy pregnancy and that it prepared me to be able to have a relatively easy, beautiful home birth.
“Yoga encouraged in me, an appreciation towards community and connection to others. It re-awoken my inner curiosity about myself and about my world and was a powerful way for me to develop & maintain my physical vitality, mental clarity and be joyfully engaged with my life. Most importantly, yoga helped me to find that subtle connection between my breath, my body, my mind and my emotions.”
I think she sums it’ up pretty nicely when she says that “ yoga gives us the power to have a better relationship with ourselves and through this, a better relationship with others and the world we live in.”
All that and a damn good workout?! How could you NOT want to do it?
Check out Lauren’s Facebook page here for where she teaches classes in Cape Town.