THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: For the uninitiated, it seems part yoga, part cardio, a fluid blend of poses and movements set to some mysterious rhythm. But as Ulli Mangold takes you on a range of flexibility and balance boosting sessions, you know bodyART is nothing you expected it to be. Developed by German physical therapist Robert Steinbacher, this unique fitness regime is based on the Chinese concepts of yin and yang, the balancing opposites.
“bodyART is a non-spiritual, functional training. Through distinct physical exercises and breath work, we aim to address the participants in a holistic way,” says the master trainer who is conducting Ayu Retreat, a residential fitness programme in association with tourism operator Ayurooms in the city.
The basic idea of bodyART is to break down faulty movement patterns and correct them to initiate a flawless body awareness. Some of the workout sessions are strikingly similar to yoga and Ulli agrees it has postures reminding various asanas.
“But bodyART is distinctive from yoga as it’s non-spiritual and can have intensive cardio elements. In addition, all of our classes use special music to energise and inspire the participants, as well as to relax them at the end of a heavy workout,” she adds.
BodyART is more inspired by the traditional Chinese medicine and the principle of chi, the fundamental energy that infuses everything with life. “Chi is akin to the concept of prana in yoga and Ayurveda. Through the training, we seek to create a dynamic link between active and passive movement, creating a greater sense of balance in the body,” she explains.
Though bodyART trainers doesn’t claim to be therapists, it can assist the process of healing. “By realigning the body in a correct functional way, the body is able to work and move optimally. We are guided by the belief that if structure is correct, it naturally follows that the function will be correct.”
At the same time bodyART functions with a solid body-mind concept - the connection between breath and movement through which the participant gains awareness of his body. “We use the body and breath as vehicles to dive deeper into our inner landscape, for example, any self-imposed limits that we may have developed over time.
By discovering our physical limits and how to transcend them with movement and breath work, we develop the courage and fortitude to overcome mental and emotional barriers that may be preventing us from functioning at our best. Very often physical limitations are trauma-induced, be it physical or emotional trauma. By breaking down these limitations, trauma can be released,” she says.
All the postures and movements in bodyART belong to three major exercise families - strength and awareness, therapy exercises, and yoga-inspired exercises.“Strength and awareness exercises concentrate on a specific muscle group or the interaction between muscle groups. Therapy exercises work on spine mobility and rotation, while stabilising the abdominal core region.
Yoga-inspired exercises are adaptations of the asanas where we first move with the greatest range of motion and then settle into the particular posture. But the asanas are modified in such a way that it is accessible to everyone, regardless of an individual’s level of experience or flexibility,” she says.
Ayu Retreat, the residential fitness programme going on at Manaltheeram Ayurveda Beach Village in the city, has participants from across the globe.
Ulli says everyone can practice bodyART because the teacher will always adapt the exercises to suit different skills and abilities. “In addition, I think that people in India are more capable of practising bodyART because you have a very musical culture,” she winds up.