No more na­maste

CityPress - - T# - Gar­reth.van­niek­erk@city­press.co.za

My lit­tle sis­ter, Marissa van Niek­erk, the bud­ding bi­ol­o­gist and health nut, has been let­ting out some of her post-univer­sity, just-moved-back-home frus­tra­tions with a novel and in­cred­i­bly stress-re­liev­ing (just ask our grate­ful mom) type of yoga that com­bines the best of the Eastern yo­gic tech­niques with Western-style com­bat box­ing.

The box­ing yoga style she has been prac­tis­ing is typ­i­cal Vinyasa yoga – lots of con­tin­u­ous, en­er­getic move­ment – but the class takes things to the next level by com­bin­ing box­er­cise.

It’s all put to­gether as part of an hour­long ses­sion in a hot pod that’s warmed up to 37°C. Think Bikram-box­ing-Vinyasa. If that sounds hec­tic, it is.

“It was really fierce,” Marissa says. “It’s Vinyasa yoga, so there is a really nat­u­ral flow to it, but some­times it gets really quick like su­perquick. If you punch out your arm, then that arm be­comes the arm that ex­tends back­wards to stretch with, and then it’s that arm that goes down to stretch out into some­thing like a tri­an­gle pose.

“Ob­vi­ously you’re work­ing your arms more, be­cause your fists are al­ways clenched and raised. As op­posed to tra­di­tional yoga, you do find a dif­fer­ence in your arm mus­cles.

“My teacher said you could go beat some­one up af­ter­wards, but I haven’t tried,” she says, laugh­ing and wink­ing at her brother.

She warns that there have been mixed re­views. “One woman wasn’t happy about walk­ing out with her jaw clenched, but an­other said it was nice to get your ag­gres­sion out once a week.

“These are all avid yoga-go­ers who go to yoga once a day, so it’s been in­ter­est­ing to see the re­cep­tion.”

Box­ing-yoga in­struc­tor Yaela Orelowitz, who teaches the class, warns that the pro­gramme is not for the faint-hearted, but is in­tended to im­prove phys­i­cal strength and flex­i­bil­ity, and pre­vent in­jury.

“It brings the mind-set of a cham­pion, one who learns equally from fail­ure as from suc­cess, teach­ing par­tic­i­pants to main­tain fo­cus, de­ter­mi­na­tion and com­po­sure in highly in­tense, chal­leng­ing sit­u­a­tions, just like a boxer.”

If you’re tired of the chant­ing and for­eign words, then get rid of the na­maste and kick your fit­ness into first gear with a punch in a new di­rec­tion. Con­tact Yaela for class

in­for­ma­tion at yo­ga­jhb@city­rock.co.za

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