A new yoga class you'll warm to

by Lucy Fry - Read the article on London Evening Standard

Lots of things spring to mind when the word yoga is mentioned: “stability”, “stillness” and perhaps even “sweat”. But what about “dumbbells” and “dance tunes”? Not perhaps the first things you’d imagine complementing a warrior pose, are they?

But watch out, because things look set to change thanks to Allie Hill, founder of Yogahaven in south-west London, who has launched a new class called “Pulse” yoga, a one-stop-shop to strength and flexibility involving weights, a warm room and more than downward dog.

Pulse works on toning and stretching the body at the same time, while strengthening the muscles and helping to build core stability and balance.

Micro-movements with weights ensure that the smaller muscles get a workout while the bigger ones are being used to stabilise the body in a yoga posture.

This new technique originated a few years ago in Colorado after yoga instructor Argie Tang was told by her doctor that she had developed osteopenia (lower-than-normal bone mineral density). Tang, who was in her fifties at the time, was shocked to hear that, despite practising yoga for so long, she still needed to build bone density with weight training. Not keen to reduce the little time she had for yoga, or to join a gym, Tang decided to create a new type of yoga that suited her needs.

Pulse yoga has been widely practised in the States ever since.

Allie Hill enjoyed training in Bikram yoga but wanted to offer more variety than the 26-posture routine that forms the core of every Bikram class, so Yogahaven was born. Here the timetable currently consists of 60-minute and 90-minute hot yoga classes (about 36 degrees, in fact), pregnancy yoga, yoga for runners and now Pulse.

“Pulse is great for people who want to try something new,” she says. “It’s good for people who know they need to weight-train but perhaps prefer yoga, or don’t like gyms, because it combines the lot. So while you’re holding a hip-flexor stretch, you might also be doing a bicep curl with weights, or while in downward dog, you’ll also be pulsing one of your legs.”

All sounds fairly straightforward? I thought so too, but, trust me, this class will do things to muscles in your arms and rear end that you won’t believe. Plus, you’ll expend more calories because you’re generally working harder. Beginners needn’t be too scared, though; everybody can “pulse” at their own pace, choosing whatever weight is right for their level.

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