Extra: Exercise for the heart and mind

Picture a circle of people clapping and playing musical instruments while two others "dance" in the middle.

You'd be forgiven for thinking I'm talking about a party, rather I'm describing the Brazilian practice of capoeira: an "art form" that incorporates self-defence, music and acrobatics.

Capoeira was developed by the African slaves in Brazil in the 16th century as a way of disguising their fighting practice to look like a dance, hence its characteristic lack of contact.

I was very excited to try it out because I am Brazilian and grew up watching people practising capoeira at the beach.

But fear not. Abada Capoeira instructor Fabiano Bilia, whose capoeira name is Cipo, said you don't have to know how to move to the sound of the instruments to learn it.

"It's very adaptable and it's for everyone," he said.

"Capoeira is a complete art form that works all muscles of the body while increasing flexibility, strength and teaching musicality, awareness and the ability to think quickly."

The Brazilian has been practising it for 20 years and teaching since he moved to Sydney 10 years ago.

"Once a month we get all our students from different areas together in Granville for a big 'roda de capoeira' — or circle — and have a practice together," he said.

See instructors Cipo, Rosinha and Filipino in action.

Where to take your inner capoeirista:

Abada Capoeira has classes in Granville (Tuesday and Thursday) and Penrith (Tuesday) with instructor Cipo and instructor Filipino. Details: 0408 716 264.

Capoeira Academy has a class at the AAKM Gym in Parramatta every Monday night with instructor Labamba. Details: 0404 856 270.


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