Head down the three-way route to a balanced life

(Original Article: Mind, Body, Soul Editorial by Tony Bosworth, The Age, Sept 25, 2016)

If you think that yoga won’t give you enough of a workout, try it with cross training and a nutrition plan.

With lots of meditation, slow breathing and tricky postures, yoga requires focus. It has been proven to lower stress levels and promote mindfulness.

Yoga is popular physical activity, ahead of AFL and dance according to the Australian Sports Commission.

Australian Bureau of Statistics data puts women’s participation in the hundreds of thousands; with men’s participation - in the tens of thousands - on the rise.

Yet for many people, yoga just doesn’t raise their heart rate enough.

"Yoga is excellent because it makes you relax and gives you a peaceful mind but it doesn’t build muscle or give you a cardio workout," Christine Lau, founder of Yoga XTC in South Yarra says.

Frustrated with the limits of traditional yoga, Lau invented a discipline which combines yoga with cross training and a 24-stage online nutritional guide. Within a year she’d attracted more than 120 people who wanted to learn how to improve both body and soul.

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"Yoga is excellent for developing mobility through the joints, toning muscles and calming the body and mind, but yoga alone does not build enough strength and power in our muscles, which are essential for good posture and stamina.

“We need to balance yoga with the right strength and cardio training to build lean muscles, power and agility."

Combining the disciplines allows people to see the results of their hard work much faster than if they were going to standard yoga classes alone.

"For sure yoga has its place, but now there’s a new take on yoga as one of three building blocks to a healthy life. And it doesn’t have to mean you need to take more time out of your busy life either.

"Ultimately it’s all about balance. Each of these disciplines – yoga, cross training and nutrition – does some good. But if you combine them – and you don’t need to spend hours every day – then you begin to see some real results for both the mind and the body.

"We know everyone is time-poor so it’s important to have structured programs which fit people’s lifestyles.

"If you have four hours a week to spare, and most people will find they do, then putting the elements of yoga, cross training and nutrition together makes sense."

One immediate lesson to adopt is to eat more slowly. It’s a small, effective, mindful change that can leave you feeling full sooner, and thus eating fewer calories. It’s never too late to change your workout habits, either.

"Many of our clients are in their 30s. People in their 50s and upwards are also interested," Lau says. "It’s not about pushing yourself to extremes, it’s about balance.