Sasha Quince was ‘probably the most inflexible teacher you will ever meet’, was prone to injury and was doing yoga all wrong – until she found Shred Yoga.
Although Sasha left her corporate media job three years ago to retrain as a yogi, she admits she forced herself into complex poses that only exacerbated her lower back complaints.
‘I was doing too many deep poses and I just wasn’t ready for it. Chiropractors see so many yoga teachers with lower back problems – precisely the issues that yoga is supposed to solve. Yoga in India – when it was first developed – was meant for children, and adults’ spines just don’t move that way.’
It turns out those bendy nymphs in the latest Lululemon rarely have the right technique, she says.
‘As a teacher now I don’t want to see that compression in the lower back but students actually resist when you tell them not to arch or bend so far. So what I’m trying to teach is that it’s more important to keep in alignment than over stretch.’
Sasha’s injuries prompted her to spend a summer in Brooklyn, New York with Sadie Nardini, the founder of Core Strength Vinyasa Yoga, ‘an anatomy based style of yoga’, says Sasha. ‘I didn’t know enough about anatomy but Sadie looks at a new focus on the system, on the deep core or muscle Meridien line.’
The muscle Meridien line or ‘deep front line’ runs from feet to head and maintains core stability and alignment. Muscles are connected to muscles and internal structures, and if one is out of kilter, such as a painful shoulder it may be traced back through the body to weak glutes.
What people don’t realise, says Sasha, is that targeting your mid-section will not yield a strong core and six pack, you need to work your Meridien line.
‘The deep core line is not the traditional abdominal muscles. The core goes way deeper than that, from the toes up the calf, through the inner thigh and through the pelvic floor and into the lower belly up through the chest and out through
But Sadie’s Core Vinyasa technique has an important twist – shredding. ‘The shred’ is a series of one-minute, high-intensity intervals (HIIT) followed by ‘belly bonfire’ breathing, Sasha explains. This is essentially yoga for impatient people who want to break a sweat, burn calories and then stretch it out.
‘We start with a unique “belly bonfire” breathing exercise, exclusive to Core Strength Vinyasa Yoga, breathing through the diaphragm, before the class moves into a gentle warm-up with warrior flow and sun salutations and then we’re shredding for one minute and continuing to use our breath in a yogic way which makes it more challenging. In HIIT you lose alignment doing it, that’s why we only have one minute intervals.’
Sasha, a keen runner, has since given up the gym because she believes shred yoga gives her an effective cardio workout. ‘I’ve been a runner my whole life and you get that runner’s high that people talk about, but when I started practising yoga a lot of people told me to give it up. But it was important to me so I kept on running.
‘When I started shredding I gave up running completely because I saw the deep sweat and endurance benefits and I wasn’t gaining weight. I didn’t renew my gym membership despite having it for six years.’
Sasha’s five-week yoga shred challenge starts on September 12 every Sunday and promises to mesh yoga and cardio for the best weight loss, calorie burning and metabolic firing benefits until October.
‘It’s for those who like the faster paced moves but still want to achieve the yoga zen in an hour-long session. Each session means your metabolism will be working three days after you stop. You will see results if you are consistent and come once a week.’
‘I’m now the only one that teaches this style of yoga in the UAE. It’s Sadie’s style that saved me, and now I know I can do this for the rest of my life.’
Dhs300 for five-week Yoga Shred challenge. Every Sunday, Sept 13-Oct 11. www.letsgoyogame.com, firstname.lastname@example.org (050 349 2336).
Get your HIIT
You might as well tie a blindfold not a bandana, because you don’t know what you’re walking into at Haddins’ extreme fitness class. Tyre flipping, 1km sprints and kettlebells are all on the menu for this intense session with minimal rest.
Dhs80 non-members, Dhs600 ten classes. Wed 6pm and Fri 9am. International Tennis Centre, Zayed Sports City (02 403 4233).
You may be familiar with the drill sergeant-style cult fitness ‘Insanity’ DVDs, if you’re not – you’re not escaping that easily. Stay Fit Abu Dhabi rolls out this max interval training with three-minute bursts of exercise followed by 30-second breaks. Work to your maximum capacity in each interval and you will be ripped in no time. This is not for the faint-hearted.
Dhs75 for 60-minute class. Various locations, www.stayfitme.com (02 550 3875).
Atten-tion! Lean machine Eva Clarke, a six-time Guinness World Record holder and former member of the Australian Army and Air Force, has developed HUA, which stands for ‘Hear me, Understand me, Acknowledge me’. These intense sessions offer circuit style resistance training and explosive plyometrics for those who want to be motivated like soldiers.
Dhs249 per month. Saturdays, 8am. Gems American Academy, Khalifa City A. Free, Wed 7pm, Zayed Sports City, www.huafitness.com.au.