Tue, May 16, 2006 - Page 16 News List

Don't want to follow the yoga herd?

THE GUARDIAN , LONDON

1. The Five Tibetan Rejuvenation Rites

The origins of these rhythmic, yoga-style postures (each of which must be repeated 21 times) are shrouded in secrecy. Legend has it a British explorer "discovered" them while living in a monastery in the Himalayas. "The exercises work by balancing the body's chakras," says teacher Granville Cousins, whose youthful appearance belies his age (he's 55). The chakras -- invisible energy centers -- are believed to stimulate the glands of the endocrine system, which look after the body's functioning and ageing processes. Dedicated students rave about the flexibility, vitality and anxiety-quelling feelings that a daily 10-minute practice gives them. For more information, visit yogawithgranville.com, or read Christopher Kilham's The Five Tibetans (Healing Arts Press).

2. Ba Kua

Part of a complete health and martial arts system that includes taichi, this discipline, though little known in the West, can be learned by anyone and requires no prior skills beyond an ability to, er, walk in a circle. Not just any circle, though: "Ba Kua emphasizes sinuous, continual spiral movement -- it's a particular form of moving meditation that will calm the mind, increase core stability and gently extend your range of motion," says instructor Maurice Pressman. Go to pineapple.uk.com or roseli.org for more information.

3. AcroYoga

So you think you're a team player? Feeling brave? If so, this dynamic blend of acrobatics, yoga and Thai massage may suit you. "By using your partner's support and the freeing power of gravity, the body can be opened with grace and ease," says instructor Jason Neimer. As you'd imagine, dangling midair on the feet or hands of a stranger requires trust, and will develop your cooperative spirit. It is popular with sociable types and with those who "love to be upside down," says Neimer. Go to acroyoga.org for more information.

4. Yamuna Body Rolling

New Yorker Yamuna Zake invented this self-massage, workout, meditation and osteopathic/chiropractic session rolled into one. The rolling metaphor is apt: you use balls of varying density and size to isolate, stretch and release your body's muscles and tendons. There are routines to prevent headaches, back, neck and shoulder tension, and even jet lag. "Practise this two or three times a week and you'll improve your circulation, stand taller, move easier, age gracefully and feel great," says London therapist Kitsa Pateras, who offers one-to-one tuition, as well as group workshops. Log on to yamunabodyrolling.com for more information.

5. Beautcamp Pilates

Called Bootcamp in the US, and not without reason: this is Pilates plus circuit training on a scary-looking apparatus called the Reformer (imagine a psychiatrist's couch with added ropes, springs and pulleys). And why would you put yourself through this? "Mat-based Pilates can be boring on its own," says Sebastien Lagree, the LA- based Frenchman who pioneered the workout. "This way, you'll strengthen and stretch your muscles, and work on your core stability and balance in a rapid sequence that forces your heart rate to increase and enter the cardio target zone." Your psyche will benefit, too, says Lagree, who cites improved concentration and stress reduction as added perks. Ben Stiller and Nicole Kidman are rumored to be fans. Go to beautcamppilates.co.uk for more information.

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