Yoga on a plate: the rise of Yogavibes

Every respectable, well equipped gym now has a Power Plate - those fast-vibrating machines that, enthusiasts claim, somehow make a 20-minute workout equal to a standard 90-minute gym routine.


yogavibes Even that epitome of modern celebrity fitness, Madonna, is said to swear by this method of keeping in shape.


It's all in the vibration

The premise behind Power Plate is simply that getting fit and working muscles has never been quicker and more effective.


Sightly scarily, it's said that muscles contract up to 50 times a second during a sesh - thankfully, the intensity of the vibration can be altered according to regime and during a so-called YogaVibes class, the setting is low.


As a Power Plate virgin and long-term gym phobe, I am mercifully unaware of these facts as I make my way to a Yoga Vibes session at London exercise studio Fitness For Everybody, tucked away five minutes from London Bridge station.


I had no idea what to expect as I made my way gingerly onto one of three Power Point machines in a medium-sized, brightly lit room.


If there was one question dominating my thoughts it was this: how on earth can a proper yoga practice be done on a moving, vibrating Power Plate? Won't the session be little more than a watered-down, mixed around half yoga session?


Not boasting the cast-iron quadricep muscles of a fanatical gym-goer, will I ever walk again, post Yogavibes?


But there was no need to fret on most of these counts, and my misgivings were calmed when I met my fellow two Yogavibes class partakers that day - two ladies who were aux fait with the Power Plate but new to yoga. At least none of us knew what we were doing.


Yoga but not as we know it?

My fears about embarking on a half-baked yoga regime were assauged pretty quickly - though the question, 'what does a vibrating plate truly add?' never really vanished.


The four weekly sessions are led by experienced yoga teacher and Tai Chi expert Beko Kaygee - and it was instantly clear that I was about to be led through yoga asanas, rather than a fusion session that resembled yoga in only a vague form.


Kaygee was a competent and patient instructor - after I had recovered from the initial shock of standing on a vibrating, wobbling machine, I was pleased to hear the familiar Sanskrit terms and sink into the familiar asanas.


We were talked through sun salutations, Trikonasana, Virhabradrasana II, a rather shaky Uttanasana - many of the core asanas central to a standard yoga practice.


There were no inversions - and the main difference, of course, was the inescapable, vibrating, low-humming presence of the Power Plate, which we were instructed to stand on (or place one leg on, alternatively) throughout the half-hour class.


I wasn't a big fan of how the Power Plate felt - though the slightly naseous feeling I had when I first climbed aboard, mega-vibrations and all, vanished soon enough.


Even so, I couldn't banish the feeling I have got in the past when I've had had an ineffectual stab at jogging - that of the body being put through its paces in a rather harsh, slightly uncomfortable, form.


Did the Power Plate make things more challenging? There's no doubt that the answer is 'yes' - it's not hard to feel the muscles working more strongly and the intensity of effort is magnified.


This, after all, is a quick fix - Yogavibes is very much aimed at the 'cash rich, time-poor' consumer we hear so much about these days - at £20 for half an hour, sesions don't come cheap.


Physical benefits

In pure fitness terms there seems to be plenty going for the Power Plate. Jane Dowling, founder of Fitness for Everybody, points out that the neuromuscular system is enhanced and there is a greater uptake of nerves being stimulated. Muscle fibres are worked and the 'muscle pump' effect is increased.


The question of how this translates to yoga is a different one entirely - and I'm still not sure I know the answer.


Dowling has known Yogavibes' instructor, Beko Kaygee, for years. He has an impressive pedigree, clearly knows his yoga and is enthusiastic about the benefits of Yogavibes - he says 'having taught a range of yoga disciplines over the past 15 years, I believe that Yogavibes will be revolutionary for the yoga enthusiast.'


On the downside, the brighly lit, airless environment means there is little scope to incorporate any of yoga's spiritual elements - though it's fair to say that much gym yoga doesn't do this anyway, and I was heartened to see a moderate emphasis on breathing throughout the practice.


For the yoga purist and dedicated yogi, Yogavibes' blitz style, super-yang, gym-style yoga is almost definitely one step too far. After a while I longed for a bright, roomy, airy studio refreshingly devoid of strange vibrating machines.


Another short-term hybrid?

On the upside, while it's easy to knock the numerous (and growing) forms of hybrid and watered-down yoga - and I'm no fan myself - in my opinion new takes on this ancient practice are inevitable and not entirely negative.


Arguably a certain amount of reinvention is important to keep yoga fresh and appealing to a certain person who would not otherwise give it a second thought.


At the moment, Fitness for Everybody is unique in its adaptation of yoga for the Power Plate - but there's every chance this will change.


Dowling is planning a teacher training course for the future which has the potential to breed a new generation of instructors keen to reinvent yoga for a contemporary audience.


The jury's very much out on how that goes, and how it's received by the (pretty traditionalist) yoga community.


And in case you're wondering - mercifully, my muscles didn't disolve to jelly the next day. Perhaps I never mastered the technique after all.


Fitness for Everybody



Lucia Cockcroft, editor







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