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Bridal Fitness on Paper - Vinyasa Flow Yoga Monday, October 17, 2011 ~ 9:45 a.m.

Yoga As the most popular form of yoga here in the U.S., Vinyasa Flow Yoga consists of many of the traditional yoga poses that most of us have come to know - whether you consider yourself a true "Yogi" or not. I would say it's more workout focused than other types of yoga, moving at a quicker pace from pose to pose (thus, the "Flow" included in the name). I took a Vinyasa class this past weekend at a yoga studio close to where I live called Yoga Vista. It's a really small studio with only one room for classes, offering Vinyasa Flow and Hatha yoga, among a few other "Flow" classes tailored toward pre and post natal body work, sculpting and restoration. Given it's size, the studio has a pretty good schedule, offering classes as early as 6:15 in the morning and as late as 7:30 p.m. at night, 7 days a week. Because Yoga Vista is such a small studio, today's review will be focusing more on the type of yoga and it's ability to help brides get in shape for their wedding day, rather than the particular studio itself.

I was actually able to try out Yoga Vista for the first time at no cost because I was lucky enough to get my hands on my own Passport to Prana. The Passport is a card that you can purchase for $30 that gives you access to numerous yoga studios in your area, allowing you to attend your first class at no additional cost to you. It's a pretty cool concept, when you consider how daunting it can be to try out a new yoga studio for the first time!

My Passport to Prana is for studios here in the Los Angeles area; however, there are Passports designated for several major cities including Atlanta, Boston, Chicago, Dallas, Denver, Miami, New York, Philly, Portland, San Diego, San Francisco, Seattle and Tampa. Each Passport does have an expiration date though; the Los Angeles Passport to Prana expires November 30, 2011. Each city seems to have a different expiration date too, so be sure to check that out by clicking on your city listed here. The Passport was pretty easy to use when I tried using it this past weekend. Just activate your card, choose a studio from their designated list (provided on the website), sign up for a class and go! I mentioned the Passport when I arrived to check in for my yoga class, and the lady at the front desk already knew what I was talking about, took down my card number and that was it! It's a great concept for people who may be new to yoga and interested in trying it out, but if you already have a yoga studio that you love, then the Passport probably won't be of much use to you.

Personally, I enjoyed my Vinyasa Flow Yoga class; however, I like to switch things up a lot and prefer to practice several types of yoga, rather than just sticking with the one type. Besides Vinyasa, I also enjoy Kundalini Yoga, which is a bit more inwardly focused on your "Individual consciousness" and spirit, and places much more emphasis on breathing and awareness, in addition to challenging your body physically. Based on my own limited experience, I would recommend Vinyasa for anyone who hasn't done yoga before and would like to try it out - it's a bit more Westernized, so it's not quite as intimidating as some other yoga practices like Kundalini, which often includes chanting and singing (which I still don't know the words to, myself, by the way =P)

Bridal Fitness Review - Vinyasa Flow Yoga

Overall: Four diamond ring rating for bridal bootcamp exercise reviews
4 out of 5 diamonds
Vinyasa Flow Yoga is a great class for beginners, in particular, who are looking for the opportunity to relieve stress, but also improve muscle tone and flexibility, above all else.

Centered around a combination of yoga poses called a "Sun Salutation," Vinyasa Flow sort of reminds me of Pilates in the way that all of your movements are synchronized with your breath. When your instructor tells you to complete your "vinyasa," he/she is actually referring to the Sun Salutation sequence, which consists of a Plank, Chaturanga, Upward and Downward Facing Dog poses. Vinyasa actually serves as the basis for many other yoga classes, as well, so it's a great class for beginners to learn the basics of yoga. Vinyasa Flow Yoga will challenge you in terms of strength, by forcing you to hold poses that have you squatting, lunging, holding and pushing yourself up using your lower and upper body. Many of the poses will also help improve your flexibility, and the slow, concentrated movements will help you focus and destress. Obviously, this is considered an anaerobic workout, used to tone and build muscle.

Cost & Equipment Three and a half diamond ring rating for bridal bootcamp exercise reviews
4 out of 5 diamonds
Vinyasa Flow most often uses only a mat and an optional yoga block, but the cost of a class typically lies between $15 and $20 each.

The only piece of equipment that you really need for yoga is a yoga mat. Many studios will provide one for you, as well, if you need it. Other items that are usually available to yogis and provided by the yoga studio include a yoga block, which often helps stablize you when you don't quite have the flexibility to complete the yoga pose on your own, and blankets, which can be used to cushion your backside on the ground when necessary.

Time Commitment: Three and a half diamond ring rating for bridal bootcamp exercise reviews
3.5 out of 5 diamonds
A typical yoga class will last about an hour; however, it should be combined with other cardio exercises if you really want to drop the pounds.

A typical yoga class is between 60 and 75 minutes, going continuously for the duration of the class with no breaks. Yoga classes do tend to be a bit longer than many fitness classes, because it is a low-impact, low-intensity activity in comparison to a 45 minute spinning class or aerobic workout. It sounds like a long time to spend doing one type of workout continuously, but it doesn't usually feel like it. Yoga is also great because it gives each individual the freedom to modify as he or she sees fit. I know that personally, I have bad hips from years of dancing, so some of the poses like the Bound Wide Squat and the Pigeon can be painful. I tend to skip those poses and wait in Childs Pose instead. Many yogis do this, and you don't have to feel bad about it! (As we sometimes do when stopping during other workouts, right?)

It's important to know that practicing yoga by itself most likely will not help you lose weight. Like Pilates and other strengthening, anaerobic fitness routines, it must be combined with cardiovascular work if you want to drop the pounds. Yoga will make you stronger and more flexible, tone muscle and can improve your shape, but it doesn't get your heart pumping in the way it needs to in order to really burn calories. For that reason, yoga can be great for any brides out there that don't necessarily need to lose a significant amount of weight, but would like to tone up and feel healthier. I gave Vinyasa Flow Yoga a 3.5 star rating under "Time Commitment" because most of us do need to combine it with cardio, which of course, requires more time!

Level of Difficulty: Four diamond ring rating for bridal bootcamp exercise reviews
4 out of 5 diamonds
The beauty of yoga is that it challenges you in a variety of ways, and there are a ton of poses available to help tailor the yoga routine to each individual's own skill level.

Have you ever noticed how the most talented of ballet dancers can make even the most complicated and difficult of moves look effortless? Like dance, yoga is way harder than it looks, and the best practicers are able to make it all look easy. I seem to always be one of the sweatiest people in my yoga class, so I obviously need to work on that part =P Additionally, the difficulty or challenge behind each yoga pose is going to be different for every person, depending on their level of strength, flexibility and balance. For instance, I can't do a Wide Squat to save my life because my hips simply aren't flexible or strong enough to keep my heels on the ground without falling on my butt. However, I totally rock the Foot to Hand pose because I'm pretty flexible in my hamstrings, and I can handle the Half Moon pose most of the time, because I have a pretty good sense of balance. Some people will think that the difficulty of the Chair Pose lies in having the strength to sit down into a squat, while others (like me) have more trouble keeping their arms up and straight for the duration of the pose. Everyone is going to handle each pose differently, which is one of the things that I love most about yoga!

Vinyasa Flow Yoga, specifically, can be challenging for many because it does require that you flow from pose to pose while synchronizing the movements with your breath. This means that you not only have to be strong enough to hold a single pose, but you have to have the strength and balance to be able to smoothly move from pose to pose without falling out of any of the poses. For instance, in my class, we moved from Extended Side Angle Pose to Reverse Warrior repeatedly, not only working your legs and arms in each pose, but using the your core in order to hold your position while switching in between the two poses. Vinyasa also seems to have a stronger focus on strengthening poses, rather than poses that are more focused on stretching. While there is an emphasis placed on synchronizing your inhales and exhales with the movement, Vinyasa doesn't challenge you much in terms of breath control. Kundalini Yoga, for instance, often includes the challenging Breath of Fire breathing technique. Vinyasa doesn't usually require breathing challenges like that.

Effectiveness: Three and a half diamond ring rating for bridal bootcamp exercise reviews
3.5 out of 5 diamonds
Vinyasa Flow Yoga is one of the higher calorie burners in comparison to other yoga practices; however, Vinyasa Flow alone is not enough to drop the pounds.
Compared to the various types of yoga, Vinyasa Flow is considered one of the higher calorie burners mostly because of the pace at which you perform your poses. Women's Health magazine compared Vinyasa Flow to a moderate bike ride in terms of calories burned (up to about 400 calories in one hour) and the level of difficulty. However, taking yoga classes alone, even Vinyasa Flow, are not the way to drop the pounds within a set period of time, while under the gun. Unless you're only looking to tone up for your wedding day, yoga must be paired with other cardiovascular training.

With that being said though, yoga can do some truly amazing things for your body and soul. It will help you build more lean muscle, improve balance and flexibility and help prevent future injury, as well as reduce stress by calming the central nervous system.
Enjoyability: Five diamond rings rating for bridal bootcamp exercise reviews
5 out of 5 diamonds
I think that one of the best and most alluring things about yoga is the very high level of enjoyability!

One of the things that I enjoy most about yoga is how I feel after I'm done. It's really like nothing else, and a lot of times, I walk out of my yoga class feeling like I just walked out of a spa after a good massage. In this way, yoga definitely beats out Pilates, in my book (and I generally prefer Pilates to yoga!). Often performed in a heated studio at higher temperatures, I love feeling like I just sweat out all of the bad stuff and toxins in my body. It's really invigorating!

I feel stronger and more in control of myself physically, of course, but I think most people would agree that the calming effect of yoga is by far it's greatest benefit. Before you begin a yoga session, your yoga instructor will often tell you to find your true intention. To envision something positive and real in your life, and to focus and work toward it. A good yoga session, when done and taught correctly, can really help you regain your center mentally, emotionally and physically. You'll do a lot of stretching, which helps you work out the kinks that you may accumulate while sitting at a desk all day, and the constant balance challenge and breathing techniques is pretty much guaranteed to clear your mind and help you refocus on what's most important to you.

Yoga exercises

Photo sources: Seated yoga, Keep calm and do yoga and Women's Health.

If you're curious about a specific workout and you'd like for me to review it, please do leave a comment below or feel free to send me an email at Sarah - at - apaperproposal - dot - com.

Insert Comment | View Comments (3)




Naomi (San Diego)

Oct 17, 2011 2:08 PM

Thank you so much for this! It has been on my mind for so long to find a yoga studio in my new town and I didn't know what kind of yoga but now I do. Thanks you so much for this great post!

Jessica (West Hollywood, CA)

Oct 17, 2011 2:58 PM

Hmmmmm just looked into the Passport to Prana website and it looks like an great deal! Thank you so much for the heads up :)

Erika {Borrowed&Bleu} (Orlando, FL)

Oct 18, 2011 9:23 AM

Thanks for sharing!! :)