2017 has seen fitness fanatics diving head first into the wellness trend, with our attentions fully turned towards a healthier mindset and sense of calm. Meditation and mindfulness have become the latest buzzwords of the fitness arena as we ditch our digital gadgets in favour of a wellness wind down.
Amongst the trends that will stick with us into the New Year, yoga holds its spot in the ACSM Top 10. It’s no newcomer to the fitness sector, but thanks to creative new ways being found to reinvent and refresh this old classic, it’s proving popular for the year ahead.
We caught up with Professional Yoga Instructor, Helen Fenton who runs Orange Bloom Yoga in Poynton, Cheshire.
“If you say the word yoga to anyone there are probably two images that spring to mind. The first is the legging clad, skinny minnie doing some kind of impossible stretch in front of a sunset or on a mountain. The second is a bunch of unwashed hippies sitting around chanting and discussing vegan recipes.
Don’t get me wrong I know a lot of skinny minnie yogis and I know a lot of vegans but for the most part, people who do yoga sit somewhere in the middle, the more ‘everyday yogi’.”
Yoga comes in many forms. From the Hot to the Hatha, the Anusara to the Ashtanga… deciphering what they all mean can be more challenging than mastering the Downward Dog. So what’s it all about?
“Done correctly, yoga should provide a full body workout whilst helping to improve strength, flexibility and breathing control.“
As a Personal Trainer, the yoga trend opens up opportunities to coach a widely varying client base, from post and ante natal clients to older adults and even children. If you’re considering adding yoga to your resume for the New Year, here’s what you need to know…
Asana | AKA the movement bit
Asana is the physical part of yoga, all the movement and postures.
“Truthfully I think this is where everyone starts. There are postures for everything from increasing shoulder mobility to lengthening hamstrings and calf muscles.. A great start for Outdoor Fitness Coaches looking to add a little variety to the usual fresh air run.
A good yoga class which ever type it is should cover the whole body as well as some inversions (being upside down in someway) and some balances (think the typical standing on one leg tree pose).”
And anyone can do this, right?
“Absolutely. Yoga isn’t about pushing your body it’s about allowing it to explore postures and slowly ease into them. It’s where you leave the ego at the door. That’s not always easy especially when you have a competitive edge like me. It took me years to stop staring at others in the class and comparing my progress.”
To truly get the most out of a yoga session, Helen advises telling clients to simply flow and let go. Clients will start to learn more about their bodies and its capabilities. It’s a great way to detect injuries or weak spots which can be worked on (a great shout for Exercise Referral Specialists), plus it can also improve performance in other areas such as athletic sports, as our Strength and Conditioning Coach students will know.
Pranayama | AKA breathing
With any physical activity; lifting, running, sports, breathing is essential to guard against the buildup of lactic acid (not to mention stopping you from passing out!) Yoga takes the focus on breathing a little further.
“Different breath practises can be used to energise or relax, you can use the out breath in particular to increase flexibility by igniting the parasympathetic system. In most yoga classes the teacher might encourage ujjayi breathing, this basically makes you sound like Darth Vader but is also surprisingly effective at shutting off your wondering mind so you can actually concentrate on what you’re doing physically. Great for Personal Trainers who work with clients that struggle to switch off from the 9-5.”
Mudras | AKA those funny hand positions
One image synonymous with yoga is the peaceful looking yogi, cross legged with hand resting on the knees and the fingers pressed together (Chin Mudra for those that are interested). These hand positions are said to lock in energy or allow it to flow more freely through the body, depending on which one you are using.
“Perhaps not one for everyone and you are starting to delve into the energy side of things which I know some people find a little too hippy. That said there is increasing scientific evidence that supports the theory of Prana (energy) in the body and its effects on our well being. A sports psychologist will often use similar methods with top athletes to calm and focus the mind enabling them to use visualization for a better performance. “
So what will we see more of in the yogasphere into the New Year?
The joy of yoga is that it’s so diverse. There are many elements to it and many different styles. For the year ahead, keep your eyes peeled for some creative spins on current methods and a few unusual new yoga trends…
Yoga… in the presence of goats. Organisers claim the goats help create more feel-good hormones, lower anxiety, provide comfort and reduce loneliness.
Swigging from a bottle of beer whilst practising yoga apparently helps to encourage participants to relax more. We’re not sure if that’s just beer or whether Prosecco or Gin are involved…
Couples that yoga together… couples yoga improves levels of communication, encourages trust and is the ultimate way to add some sparkle back into a relationship.
The ultimate in core stability, float yoga is all about perfecting tricky yoga positions whilst balancing on a surfboard-type device.
The hot one. In up to 40 degree heat to add that extra physical challenge.
Yoga and aerial acrobatics combined. Not for the fainthearted!
…to your favourite old school tunes.
For wellness, at a higher intensity.
Whatever form floats your boat, simply flow and let go…
*Thanks to Helen for taking the time out to chat with us. Find out more www.orangebloomyoga.com.