What is Yoga Barre and Where to Try it Online

You know what yoga is, you’ve heard of barre… but what is yoga barre? Some might say the best of both worlds: barre yoga (or yoga barre) is a training style that is a fusion of the strengthening and toning physical aspects of a low impact barre workout with the psychological and mindful elements of a yoga practice. The combo of the two can be a game changer, keeping your body strong and functional and your mind calm and focused!

yoga barre

Until recently, barre was one of those fitness trends that passed me by, I thought it was kind of Pilates but with some ballet moves tossed in. But it’s actually way more! I’ve been amazed to find out all the physical benefits of barre, from building strength to rehabbing injuries. If, like me a couple of months ago, you’re not super familiar with barre and you’re wondering if you might benefit from it, I’ve put together a mini guide below to help you decide if barre is right for you.

I’ve also sourced the best online barre classes available right now—because dragging yourself out of the house to get to the gym or yoga studio when it’s winter feels like a workout in and of itself, so why not practice barre classes online from the comfort of your home!

What is Barre?

Barre is a strengthening, full-body workout consisting of ballet-inspired movements. It was invented in the 1950s by a ballet dancer, Lotte Berk, who created the method to help rehab an injury. It gets its name from the ballet barre, the railing you sometimes see in dance studios. Typically, dancers do their warm-ups at the barre, but they also use it to refine their form, train body awareness, and focus on developing strength and flexibility in a supported and safe way. This is one of the reasons why barre is such a great workout—it emphasizes really zoning in on specific muscles and movements and strengthening them in a targeted way.

If you’re someone who worries about bad form in their yoga asana, then cross-training with barre can be super helpful as it teaches you exactly how to engage your lean muscles effectively. Although barre is intended to work all major muscle groups, I have found it to be especially amazing for core strength! It’s also a great functional movement style of exercise that can make a key difference in getting you through the trials and tribulations of daily (desk job) life. Most of barre is done using body weight and the only essential prop is some sort of a barre—a chair is absolutely perfect. But you can also add equipment like ankle weights, resistance bands, hand weights, etc, for that extra burn.

The barre workout methods have had a bit of a glow-up in the last decade, and there are so many fun dedicated barre studios where you can live out your ballerina dream or loosen things up with upbeat music and a more contemporary vibe.

What is Yoga Barre?

barre yoga

Barre yoga is a fusion style, combining elements of yoga and barre. Some barre yoga classes are mat-based and more of a yoga workout but combined with certain movements and poses that are beneficial for dancers.

Other bar method styles are essentially extra mindful barre classes. One of the things that makes yoga different from most exercise classes and training styles is its emphasis on mindfulness, being present with the body and breath, self-acceptance, and non-judgment. IMO, this is the best kind of barre yoga class! And, even if it’s not a specific yoga barre class, you can make it one by committing to being mindful during your workout!


Benefits of Barre

Full-body Workout

And I mean full body. The first time I did a barre workout, I was not prepared for the jelly legs, aching arms, and shaking core. Barre classes focus on working every muscle group and area of the body separately, which is great for improving muscle strength and functionality. It’s nice to do a workout that focuses on the entire body in equal parts, as opposed to predominantly working one muscle group.

Many barre class postures are isometric exercises, which are exercises where the muscles are contracted and held, and the use of joints are limited. For example, a plank pose, and in barre, holding various plies. Barre also involves a lot of small pulses in postures which is great for building strength and really getting the muscles firing.

Injury Prevention and Rehab

As mentioned before, barre was originally developed as a method for working with injuries and injury rehab. Barre is a low-impact exercise, so it’s gentle on the joints. Because you work with isolated areas of the body, it’s easy to tune in to what is happening in that area of the body, which means you can minimize or intensify the posture depending on what you need.

Gentle Cardio

Barre is not a cardio workout, but in my experience, it’s also not not a cardio workout… basically, it gently elevates the heart rate with small movements in a way that won’t leave you gasping for breath but is excellent for heart health!

Great for Cross-training

I’ve become a bit of a gym bunny recently, and not only is barre great for improving muscle strength and engagement in a very isolated way, which helps to keep me safer in the gym—but I love that I also get to use gym equipment in my barre workouts. Holding light weights helps intensify bicep, tricep, and back exercises, and if I really want to give my calves, hamstrings, glutes, and core muscles a turbo-charged barre class, I whip out the ankle weights.

I have also found doing body weight exercises that focus on different major muscle groups in a more isolated way has been a really great addition to my practice of yoga strength. In general cross-training is a great way to enhance your fitness routine.

Feeling good, but also looking good…

Looking good is always secondary to feeling good (kinda 😅), but perhaps one of the best ‘side effects’ of a barre workout is the gorgeous, elongated, dancer-like lean muscle tone you get!


Best Barre Experience and Yoga Barre Online Classes

Equipment

– a chair to hold on to (your ballet barre)

Optional Equipment

– a yoga mat
– resistance bands
– ankle weights
– free weights, such as light dumbbells to intensify arm workouts or a barbell plate to hold.

YouTube

Not only do you find the largest selection of fitness classes on YouTube, but they are also free + no class schedule to try and keep up with! It’s worth hunting around for your fave barre teacher, but here are my top three YouTube barre workout recommendations:

Alo Moves

In recent years Alo Moves have become big contenders in the fitness streaming space, with many class types from online yoga to dance classes, yoga nidra to reiki—as well as a huge selection of first class barre classes!

I recommend their 21-day barre sculpt program to really kickstart your barre habit. They also offer a two-week free trial.

Pure Barre

Pure Barre, powered by Xponential+, is a platform dedicated solely to online barre classes! If you are serious about developing your barre practice, then this is a great choice. They also offer a one-week free trial, which gives you access to all Xponential+ brand classes, including spinning and treadmill classes, as well as yoga and Pilates.

Pilates Anytime

Although this is primarily a Pilates platform, it has a solid barre class offering. This is a great option if Pilates is your main form of exercise, but you want to spice it up with some barre classes now and again.

Yoga Vibes

This platform has a huge selection of barre classes under Exhale Spa’s proprietary system called Core Fusion. They span everything from a few-minute tutorials to 75-minute classes, so you are guaranteed to find something that suits your schedule and yoga experience!


Need some more inspiration for your yoga-style workouts? Then check out my guide to Rocket yoga for something more upbeat and Angamardana for a spiritual system.