Downward dog and Daft Punk. High plank and high kicks. Sound weird? Well, If you like things that don’t seem to go together, you’ll love Ki Power Vinyasa, a fusion class that combines elements of martial arts into your standard yoga sweat (and I do mean sweat -- this is hot yoga we're talking about!) session.
The idea alone sounds intriguing, right? I'm generally a high-energy exerciser -- I'd rather pump my legs on an elliptical or grab some dumbbells than focus on my inhales and exhales -- but I was piqued enough to think this might be a class worth trying out. I figured a sleepy yoga session would probably benefit from some karate chops and board-smashing, so I headed over to Pure Yoga West to put my theory to the test. While I was disappointed not to see anyone in a black belt once I entered the yoga studio, I was still fired up and ready to go. And after an hour of Vinyasa breathing and kicking I discovered these two physical challenges aren't quite so different after all.
From the moment class started, I could tell this was no Tae Kwon Do competition. The movements were fluid and, well, yoga-like. But I was actually really impressed at the seamless integration of the martial arts moves -- the kicks felt totally natural in between cobra poses and crescent lunges. The class also incorporated many of the warrior yoga poses, which fit in nicely with the martial arts theme.
The result of combining these motions was that the overall emphasis of the class wasn't just on strengthening and lengthening, but on increasing your internal and physical power. Even many of the traditional poses incorporated something called "tiger hands" (did I mention I'm a yoga novice?) where you simply put your hand in a claw formation. This small change made me feel much more like a fighter, even when I was doing something graceful like balancing on one leg.
With music blasting throughout the room -- a very un-yoga experience-- the energy was invigorating without being too aggressive throughout the workout itself. Then came the cool-down. In the (very few) previous yoga classes I've taken, I've found I was unable to fully relax at the end. Because I generally think of exercise as being high-intensity, my mind is usually swimming after a session with thoughts of the thousands of things I still have to do. But Ki Power Vinyasa actually wiped me out. By the time we got to the "corpse pose" stuff at the end, I was all too content to lie there in the darkness listening to some Coldplay. I was glad have found something that felt exciting and finally allowed me to enjoy the relaxation that is one of the key benefits of yoga.
The workout felt great. If you are a yoga junkie looking for a new challenge, nostalgic for the "hi-ya!" karate days of your youth or just in the mood to try something different, I'd definitely recommend the class. To me, the only downside was that I wanted more kicks and chops (but maybe I'm just a little agressive). If you want more information about the Ki Power Vinyasa class, check out kipowervinyasa.com.