Try gyrotonic: The yoga for dancers

PHOTO: Try gyrotonic: The yoga for dancers

Want to try yoga but too stiff? Tried pilates but found it too intensive?

For a variety of reasons, some people may not find either to their liking.

It could be due to religious conflict (some believe yoga is rooted in Hinduism), or some might just find them too advanced for a noob.

In that case, you may want to try gyrotonic, the new exercise craze in town.

In simple terms, gyrotonic is basically an exercise system that incorporates movement principles from yoga, dance, gymnastics, swimming and t'ai chi.

Developed by Juliu Horvath, a professional dancer, it was created to be 'yoga for dancers'.

But unlike yoga, which focuses much on stretching, and pilates, which focuses on core training, the fundamentals of gyrotonic aims to loosen joints and muscles, and ultimately increase mobility.

To find out more, YourHealth speaks to gyrotonic instructor Audrey, Director of The Moving Body.

How would you describe gyrotonic to a novice?

The method started as the answer to an urgent need.

Having ruptured his Achilles tendon and damaged a spinal disc, founder and ex-ballet dancer Juliu Horvath created his own movement system, known as the Gyrotonic Expansion System in the 1980s.

Regular practice of gyrotonic has a host of benefits, including:

• better circulation, • more mobility in the spine, shoulder, knees and hips, • increased core strength, • more energy for daily activities and sports.

If you try it, you may find it similar to both yoga and pilates. It in fact compliments them.

In terms of movement principles, gyrotonic is similar to yoga in terms of increasing circulation and stimulation of the energy centres of the body.

As for pilates, gyrotonic is similar as it focuses on the mobility of joints and the spine.

There is also an emphasis on learning to move the body without adding too much pressure on the spine in everyday activities.

In addition, both use specialised equipment to help assist and challenge a practitioner.

However, that's where the similarities end.

Gyrotonic is different as it repertoire of movements are basically circular and fluid actions that stretch and strengthen muscles, and mobilise joints of the body.

Unlike yoga, positions are not held for long periods of time.

Most gyrotonic exercises involve movement in all directions, especially in rotation and side bending.

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What does it involve?

Gyrotonic brings you through seven basic movements that can improve fluidity, rhythm and coordination in movement.

In addition, breathing exercises are taught with the intention of cleansing and rejuvenating the entire body.

In gyrotonic, instructors usually start with exercises that improve mobility first before working up towards more intensive exercises.

This is so that practitioners will be exercising safely with the right muscle groups.

Specialised equipment is used to assist practitioners with the routines. Similar to mat pilates, there are workout routines that can be practised without equipment.

Am I suitable?

What sort of people are more suitable for gyrotonic?

Gyrotonic is best suited for anyone who needs to improve mobility of the body.

If you are a stiff office worker hunched over your desk every day, it is ideal as a way to loosen the shoulders and relax the muscles.

Many people who participate in rotational sports such as golf and tennis also find it extremely beneficial.

Exercise routines are gentle on the joints, but at the same time stimulates the muscles and internal organs. Hence, it is also ideal for those unsuitable for intensive exercises, such as pregnant women or elderly folks.

While it is generally good for people from all walks of life, anyone who has vertigo may need to move slower in a class.

How much does it cost?

Gyrotonic packages at The Moving Body generally cost about $500, with different combination options for private and equipment group classes.

YourHealth, AsiaOne readers will be treated to a complimentary group class worth $50 when you mention this article.