Monday, July 11, 2011

Yoga for Barre-Flies: A Review of Core Fusion Yoga at Exhale Spa

Are you getting sick of my Core Fusion at Exhale Spa class reviews yet? I don't blame you if you are. Hang in there, I still have another week left in my two-week Exhale class pass, and a few more classes I have yet to try!

Core Fusion Yoga, is one of  the classes I tried this week. This one in particular, intrigued me because, even though there are overt yogic elements in Lotte Berk-style classes, I was curious to see how the two fitness styles would collide, as the name of the class suggests. Pretty seamlessly, I learned.

This class is described as:
"..inspiring guests with a combination of yoga asanas that raise the body's heat and increase cardio endurance, intense core functional training to strengthen and tone the core, Qi Gong circular movements, and stretching to move energy and produce a state of inner calm and balance."

The class is like a traditional yoga class however there are some Core Fusion twists. Let me explain.

There are a lot of sun salutations.

You are going from mountain pose, jumping back into a high plank, lowering down into a low plank, rising up to Up dog and then going into your Down dog. Then one leg flies up behind you into a down dog split and you start pulsing the raised leg repeatedly, trying to raise it higher and higher. These small, pulsing movements are the essence of the Lotte Berk method. We do the same thing when we hold a Warrior III pose; again, pulsing the raised leg, activating our seat muscles.
Warrior III Source
Prior to the start of the class, our instructor, Barbara, explained how Core Fusion Yoga differs from a regular yoga class and during class each time we would do a Core Fusion variation, she would point it out. I liked that she did that because it highlighted what we were doing differently.

Another example of the added barre-burn was when we held the chair pose. Once settled into the pose, we were asked to raise both our heels high and again start pulsing up and down repeatedly. Yup, this burning sensation in my thighs was familiar, as I thought back to the countless barre classes I have taken.

Some of the moves we did were straight out of a Core Fusion class, like holding and pulsing in a wide plie and the 'pretzel' which is a killer move for the seat and outside of your thigh.

The Pretzel. Source

We ended the class with a short abdominal curl series for some final core strengthening

Since yoga is not something I do regularly I went into this class with a completely open mind. This worked well because I really enjoyed the class. I loved how the barre-class moves seamlessly melded with more traditional yoga positions. What I absolutely loved about this class was the music! We moved to John Lennon's "Instant Karma", "Stayin' Alive" by the Bee Gees and meditated to a mash-up of Buffalo Springfield's "For What It's Worth". I know I should have been trying to keep my mind clear during this portion but I was totally bopping my head to the beat. What can I say, music's my meditation!

The Good:
1. The music: I don't know if this was because of my particular instructor or if all Core Fusion Yoga classes follow a similar play list, but it was amazing and was a reason why I enjoyed the class.

2. The class: Nice flowing asanas coupled with core strengthening ensures that you leave feeling both calm and lengthened as well as leaned out.

The Not-so-Good:
1. Instruction: I felt that the instructions could have been more precise. On a few occasions I would have to look around the room to see if I was doing something correctly because the pose was not explained fully. For example, when we were pulsing our leg in Warrior III, I was not sure if my raised leg should have been parallel to the floor or turned out. A minor point, I know, but I like to know if I'm doing the move correctly so that I can get the most of it.

I really enjoyed this class. If you like barre-based classes and are interested in bringing more yoga into your routine then this is a fun class to embrace. Or vice versa - it's also a great class for the experienced yogi who is barre-curious!