Trying out Garuda at Brighton Pilates Studio

Teachers Ana Barretxeguren and Hannah Watkins

Teachers Ana Barretxeguren and Hannah Watkins - Credit: Archant

Jenny Mark-Bell tried Garuda, a combination of elements of dance, yoga and pilates

I am a woman whose fitness regime could best be summed up by the phrase “as little as I can get away with”. Running hurts my knees and ball sports are anathema, particularly because of their relation to the arena of humiliation that was my secondary school hockey pitch. So it was with triumph that I discovered a sport I actually liked. When I first tried Bikram yoga for this magazine, I liked the fact that it was a fitness regime that sometimes involved lying down in a very warm room. But there are also some fiendishly difficult postures and the ever-present heat. Some instructors call the classroom “Bikram’s torture chamber”. In short, in the yoga world, Bikram is about as macho as can be. So I arrived for my Garuda class feeling a bit cocky, since I knew it incorporated some yoga moves.

Turns out this was unwarranted, as the fitness system, the brainchild of London-based James D’Silva, doesn’t really have all that much to do with yoga. While there’s a common emphasis on breathwork, stretching and core stength, there were only two poses I recognised; downward dog and child’s pose. On his website, D’Silva says Garuda’s results include: “Increased strength, flexibility, co-ordination and endurance, with a greater sense of ease and well-being...a cardiovascular workout while drawing deeply on mental focus, and teaching the sacred principle of relaxation within movement.” Sign me up.

At the start of the class, instructor Hannah demonstrated the spiral movement that would form the backbone of the 55-minute class, in which we were moving continuously. We began on the floor, stretching our arms in a manner reminiscent of making a snow angel. Very slowly we warmed up our bodies – even our toes got their own stretching exercise. Thus far, it had been very low impact, but then we began a series of pelvic lift exercises which had a cumulatively testing effect. There wasn’t any dancing, but the grace and flow of the class bore some relation to the discipline.

The class wound down with breathing exercises and delicious stretches.Leaving, I felt the same clarity of mind as after yoga.

Teacher Hannah explained that Garuda is suitable for everyone with a basic level of fitness, and during the class she tailored some of the postures for a pupil with back problems. Anyone with more specific needs, like the dancer performing rehabilitation exercises in the equipment room when I was there, is in good hands with studio manager Ana Barretxeguren, a specialist in remedial therapies.

Brighton Pilates Studio, Ralli Hall, 81 Denmark Villas, Hove, BN3 3TH,; 01273 906619


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