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Yoga On a Tightrope? How to Shape Up Like the Stars

Can a class of stretching and chanting really transform your body in a matter of weeks? Apparently it can, with yoga’s new breed of turbo teachers. Chuck away your trainers! New styles of extreme yoga offer a full body workout. And celebrities can’t get enough.

Jennifer Aniston is a devotee of a new fusion workout called Yogalosophy developed by LA teacher Mandy Ingber. Clients also include Jennifer Lawrence, Brooke Shields and Kate Beckinsale, who says her husband is particularly pleased with what it’s done to her behind. “I practise with Jen three times a week for up to an hour,” Mandy told The Carousel, “The routine I created pairs traditional yoga poses with repetitions of toning exercises like squats and push-ups. There are no pretzel poses or pauses and you’re constantly moving which is why my yoga hybrid builds heat and torches calories.”

For stars who needs to shape-up for film roles Mandy promises fast results (her bestselling book is called ‘Yogalosophy: 28 days to the ultimate Mind-Body Makeover). According to Jen the workout made her legs leaner, her arms stronger and helped her develop an “inner strength.” “The feeling at the end of class is blissful,” says Mandy, who is also a spinning instructor, “By the final resting pose, where you lay flat on your back you’ll have toned, balanced and unwound your entire body.”

If you choose your class right yoga can be all about results, not relaxation. Of the more traditional styles Bikram and Ashtanga are thought to be most effective for building muscle and promoting weight-loss. However these classes, which always follow the same sequence of poses, can become boring and monotonous.

For an all-pain, all-gain workout try ‘Rocket yoga’, a style that was made popular in the eighties in San Francisco and is now making a comeback (Madonna is reportedly a fan). Practised in a room heated to 35° (slightly cooler than Bikram) the fast paced class flows through a staggering 142 poses in 75minutes, including acrobatic arm balances and ‘inversions’ like headstand and handstands.

“The Rocket system addresses every major muscle group” says yoga teacher Marcus Veda from London studio Yotopia, “Bums, tums, thighs and arms will all get toned fast and because the pace is so quick it’s a cardio-vascular workout too.”

On top of this ‘yoga fusions’ will be one of 2014’s biggest exercise trends. New combinations include ‘yogasana arts’ (yoga and martial arts), ‘yostrong’ (yoga with hand weights) and ‘bikeasana’ (a 30minute spinning class followed by 30minutes of stretching). If even this sounds a little too boring, why not add another element of danger? If you’re close to water then paddle board yoga offers an ab-busting workout (just check out the six packs on Matthew McConaughey and Kate Hudson).

Meanwhile blindfold yoga (practising an entire 60minute class with your eyes covered) is a real test of balance. As no one in the class can see you it also removes your inhibitions so you’re more inclined to try a daring move. Plus you won’t waste any time checking your hair in the mirror.

There isn’t a dedicated blindfold yoga school in Australia yet, although it’s only a matter on time. In the meantime Yoga Time in Bondi, Sydney runs special workshops (www.yogatime.com.au). Or how about holding a tree pose on a tightrope? It might sound crazy but ‘slackline yoga’ involves balancing on a nylon band hung between two poles (as far off the ground as you dare). The extreme style is being used by professional athletes to practise their focus and breath worth (it also leaves your core screaming).

As if tying your legs into a pretzel wasn’t complicated enough! But the physical and mental rewards will be worth it…

Yoga superheroes

Move over Tracy Anderson, yoga teachers are the new sports stars. Insta-follow for inspiration!

Tara Stiles, New York
Dubbed the ‘new face of fitness’ by Jane Fonda, ex-model Tara has been criticised by traditionalists for promoting yoga for weight loss rather than its spiritual benefits (we don’t mind!). She never chants or talks about chakras and her pet hate is clients calling her a ‘guru’. Her book ‘Slim, Calm, Sexy Yoga’  is a bestseller and she runs special ‘yoga for hangovers’ classes on a Saturday at her studio, Strala.

Claudine Lafond, Sydney
Claudine and her husband Honza are the power couple of acro-yoga (gymnastics’ inspired moves performed with a partner). The fearless duo, who recently opened a yoga studio in Sydney. are famous for flipping into daredevil poses at airports, shopping centres and wherever they get the urge to ‘fly’.  They also post weekly challenges on their Instagram feed @yogabeyond if you’re brave enough to try it out. Check out some of their instagram images below.  www.yogabeyond.com

Kathryn Budig, Florida
You may not know her name, but you probably know her body – Kathryn is the yogi who advertisers turn to when they need a fitness poster girl (she recently posed naked for a campaign for Toe Sox). The good news is she doesn’t live on alfalfa sprouts; in fact she is a self-confessed foodie. When not downward dogging she’s rock climbing or sky diving.

Written by Amy Molloy

Amy Molloy, formerly editor of Grazia Australia, is a columnist and author, with a particular interest in health and wellbeing.

Amy is an editor at large for The Renegade Collective and, along with TheCarousel.com, has contributed for a host of Australian publications including the Sydney Morning Herald and Harper’s BAZAAR. She also regularly writes for UK publications including The Sunday Times, the Daily Mail, the Guardian, Grazia magazine, Cosmopolitan and Women's Fitness.
She previously published a memoir called Wife Interrupted in 2007.

Amy also runs sell-out yoga & creative writing retreats in Sydney, and offers one-on-one workshops on how to use journalling to improve mental wellbeing.

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