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How To Find Spiritual Bliss While Burning Calories

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By Corrie Pikul

You know about the mind-body benefits of yoga, but these other workouts can also bring a form of sweaty spiritual enlightenment.

Worship the Female Body, Starting With Yours

woman yoga dancing

What it is: Qoya, an exuberantly feminine fusion of yoga, creative dance and "sensual movement" (think loose hips, flowy arms).

What it does for your body: Dancing like nobody's watching quickly gets your heart rate way up, and stretching in new directions improves your flexibility and balance.

What it does for your soul: Routines are designed to help women get comfortable with their bodies and respond to their physical instincts, which creator Rochelle Schieck (a former personal trainer and yoga instructor) believes builds self-confidence. You're encouraged to move in ways that feel right to you without worrying about what you look like (but most of the moves end up feeling -- and looking -- darn sexy).

Where: Los Angeles, New York City, Minneapolis, MN; Miami, FL; Austin, TX; and via special retreats.

Shed Extra Pounds, Self-Doubt and Fear

What it is: IntenSati, a heart-pounding cardio class in which you do martial arts moves, yoga poses and dance steps while shouting affirmations like, "YES, I'M COMMITTED TO LIVE A LIFE I LOVE."

What it does for your body: You can burn around 800 calories, build strength from head to toe and seriously boost cardiovascular endurance (it's not easy to yell and jump at the same time).

What it does for your soul: The creator of IntenSati, Patricia Moreno, grew up obese; she was addicted to food, then exercise, then diet drugs. She came up with the IntenSati method because she felt traditional workouts neglected the mind and soul connection. Class-goers tend to be serious about self-improvement, and they claim this practice helps them focus on their goals and think more positively outside the gym.

Where: Moreno teachers at Equinox clubs in New York City; other classes available across the country (and on DVD).

Outpace That Monkey Mind

morning run

What it is: Meditative running, a jogging practice that helps you improve mindfulness on the go. No racing to beat the clock allowed.

What it does for your body: You'll still get the toned quads, glutes and calves the sport is known for, as well as a terrific cardio workout. Meditation can have physical benefits, too, such as improved immunity, a decreased sensitivity to pain and lower stress levels.

What it does for your soul: You've heard how meditation can calm your mind, improve your focus and even make you less likely to judge yourself harshly -- but it can be hard to find time or motivation to do it. Practicing while running not only saves time, but it may also be easier to focus on your breath when you can hear yourself panting. Tibetan lama and marathon runner Sakyong Mipham, who leads instruction in meditative runs, says that when we allow the body and mind to harmonize, we feel more alive and stronger; join him on a meditative run here.

Ride Your Way Out of a Bad Place

What it is: SoulCycle, a type of non-competitive indoor cycling, done en masse in candlelight. Classes are packed with devotees (including Oprah, who attended a class with friends on her 60th birthday).

What it does for your body: Hello, power quads! Not to mention the core muscles you'll develop while doing jumps and standing sprints.

What it does for your soul: Instructors tell inspiring stories, chant empowering mantras and motivate you to change your life -- starting with this ride. While SoulCycle is credited with the concept, similar classes have been popping up, and some non-affiliated instructors also know how to create a transcendent cycling experience (for example, getting everyone to stand up on their pedals, wave their towels and sing along to "Man in the Mirror" on Michael Jackson's birthday).

Become OM With Nature

hiking yoga

What it is: Hiking Yoga. Okay, so we're cheating a bit here—but at least this type of yoga doesn't require a mat. Sneaker-clad certified yogis will guide you briskly through parks and along trails, pausing in scenic spots to lead you through poses.

What it does for your body: Trail hikes are amazing for the lower body (and your bones, if you carry even a small pack), and the poses help with flexibility and balance.

What it does for your soul: Not only will you be saluting the actual sun, but you'll also be harnessing its mood-boosting benefits. Exercising outdoors in natural light has been shown to spike feelings of optimism, self-esteem and vitality almost instantly.

Where: 14 cities around the US.

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