Yoga sculpt is a hot new class that is making its way into both yoga studios and big-box gyms across the world. But wait… why would someone “ruin” yoga with weights? I would argue that Yoga Sculpt (and the various other monikers it goes by) is a trend driven by the consumers. Consumers don’t want to have to pick either yoga or weights or toning or Zen. Consumers no longer have time for 2 hour workouts or morning/ evening sessions. Between work, family, friends, commitments, and sheer exhaustion, the average time to workout is shrinking, which is explains why the craze of HIIT (in bursts of only 20-30 minute classes), Spinning (which is only 45 minutes at most locations), CXWorks (30 minutes of core), and Yoga Sculpt classes are taking the world by storm. Get in, get sweaty, get out and get the most bang for your buck.
This article will focus on Yoga Sculpt in order to tie in with the Wedding Chronicles that I’ve been writing. As a bride to be and yoga teacher who also works full time and freelances, Yoga Sculpt is a great savior in my workout week. It provides the needed slow toning, core work, and also the Zen and stress relief of Yoga that I so desperately need when I try to plan a 200-person wedding while juggling all of the other balls of life in the air. Cramming in intense workouts to meet my goals for my dress while then spending evenings and lunch hours meeting with vendors results in a need, like most fitness clients these days, for a multi-tasking workout that will provide results.
Tips to finding & having a great Yoga Sculpt class:
Your teacher should be a fitness veteran who is trained in both personal training/ group fitness and also in Yoga. Double check their credentials for this as some studios are placing mere group exercise instructors who have never formally been trained in yoga, and vice versa, as the teachers, which could result in your injury. Call ahead or do you research on the Yoga Sculpt teachers who are proficient in both topics.
Try a few places (if your budget allows it). Your gym membership may offer this class, or maybe not yet. If they don’t, send an email suggesting the class (power in numbers! You never know who else has asked!). If they do, try a few classes out (and see point 1 above) and figure out the instructor that you get the best vibe with- after all, you are looking for both toning AND Zen, not just one. Most yoga studios now offer a class called Yoga Sculpt (or some variation thereof); see if you can try a class for free at these typically more pricey private studios before you buy.
Once you enter your first class, grab a few levels of weights. Yoga Sculpt is traditionally done with light weights, such as 3 pounds, and I would suggest being conservative with how much weight you grab. This class, with a great teacher, can get hard FAST. It’s easier to go up in weights than down, as well as you won’t distract the teacher or class by having to run and grab new weights (it is a yoga class after all, and yoga etiquette still applies).
Stay near the back so that you can see the Yoga Sculpt weekly warriors who know the moves and can help provide you an idea of how to set up (if the teacher isn’t available to show you). Sometimes, these classes are quite large and if you’re petite like me (5 foot 2 proud!), it can be hard to see the instructor. Standing near a Yoga Sculpt veteran can help you get the gist of the move, but, of course, ask the teacher if you don’t understand form.
If you are doubling up on workouts, such as a quick treadmill session with Yoga Sculpt, get your cardio in BEFORE class so that you get the Zen feeling and the yoga relaxation out of the instruction. You don’t want to be laying in savasana (the final resting pose) while knowing you need to ramp back up and get on the treadmill right after.
For those of you on a budget, here are some example of Yoga Sculpt moves you can incorporate into your home routine.
All you need is a mat and a set of 3-5 pound handweights (at most, 8 pounds for those of your strength warriors). You can always increase the hold time or the number of reps you do in each move to challenge your individual strength. Do the below routine 1x through for beginners and up to 3x through as a Yoga-style circuit. End with 3 minutes in savasana (laying on back, resting) or seated meditation.
Weighted Forward Folds
- Holding your weights in your hands while standing, take a deep inhale and lift weights overhead with palms face outward so that arms create a circle as they go upward.
- Reverse the motion and exhale as you slowly fold forward, into a deadlift form with a flat back and slightly bent knees, weights directly under shoulders. Inhale and return to start.
- Repeat 10x.
Plank to Side Planks
- After your 10th Forward Fold, move into a Plank position with your handweights within reach (one on each side).
- Inhale in your normal straight Plank position, as you exhale, grab a weight into your left hand and move into a right Side Plank, lifting the weight directly over your shoulder.
- Hold for your inhale, and exhale move back to normal Plank as you gently release the weight.
- Either alternate sides 20 times or do 10 per side and then switch.
- Take a brief Child’s Pose to recover (about 5 breaths).
- Move into Downward Facing Dog and then, inhaling, lift your right leg and step it forward into a lunge.
Standing Runner’s Lunge: Bicep Curls
- With your right leg forward, bend down and grab your weights.
- Move into bicep curls that are slow, focused, and with your breath while you hold a deep Runner’s Lunge (make it easier: drop your back knee).
- Do for 1 minute and then switch to your left side.
Standing Runner’s Lunge: Lateral Raises
- With your left leg forward, bend down and grab your weights.
- Move into lateral raises that are slow, focused, and with your breath while you hold a deep Runner’s Lunge (make is easier: drop your back knee).
- Do for 1 minute. Recover in Child’s Pose for 5-10 breaths.
Bench Press Bridges
- Move into a position on your back, with your knees bent and feet flat, hips distance apart.
- Inhaling, move into a Yoga bridge (hips lift) while benchpressing your weights; exhale and return to start.
- Repeat for 2 minutes. Place weights to the side and remain on back.
- If repeating routine, go back to step 1.
Take a moment to stretch (think gentle spinal twists, knees to chest, hamstring stretching, etc…) and then move into your resting pose. Close your eyes and breath for 3-5 minutes without interruption.
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