Yoga is a mind/body practice that provides tremendous benefits. Yogis who were hoping to calm the mind developed the yoga poses in order to prepare the body for meditation. Practioners today are seeing relief of modern stressors from this ancient practice. The National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health states that yoga “might confer other health benefits such as reducing heart rate and blood pressure, and may also help alleviate anxiety and depression.”
In yoga class, we learn sequences of the asanas or poses. Most teachers develop a sequence that follows some kind of structure: warming up, invigorating, balancing, strength building and relaxing. You will often find some variation from class to class, but there are poses that are included frequently so you’ll be able to become familiar enough that you can learn them without too much difficulty!
The asanas help you develop strength, flexibility and balance, and you will find that it’s easier to quiet the mind once you are comfortable with the poses and sequences. In addition, you may find that you’re breathing more effectively, which will also provide you benefits. In fact, there’s an entire area of yoga focused on breathing techniques, called pranayama.
There are several places in Marietta where you can try out a yoga class.
Marietta College’s department of recreation hosts a yoga class twice a week. Its open to the community, and you either pay a $5 drop-in fee for one class or you can get a membership to the center.
Joy Held is the yoga teacher a Marietta College, in addition to her community classes, and she teaches yoga and stress management and meditation as part of the physical education curriculum. She also works with some of the athletic teams.
“For two years I have researched and designed a workout with the men’s rowing team. I have given them yoga poses to help heal the issues they bring to me because of their sport, but to enliven their overall. They spend so much energy and effort and time in their sport, and what’s required for their sport, they don’t have a lot of time and attention to… counterposing. The rowers, they sit, they lean forward and they push back… over and over,” she states. Counterposes might include actions that provide the opposite type of movement, like a back bend to open the chest and shoulders.
In addition to the poses to complement all that forward motion, Joy is able to introduce to them aspects of breath work and meditation, which will help them learn to focus, she says, “They get so engaged and involved. They forget to rest. The coaches, bless their hearts, they know they need help.”
Joy explains “I teach a very basic Iyengar class at 5:30 and on Thursday 5:30, I teach a more kicked-up class.” Iyengar is a style that focuses on achieving proper alignment using props, belts and ropes to assist the practitioner (http://www.bksiyengar.com/modules/IYoga/iyoga.htm).
Joy appreciates how Marietta College supports wellness. “It’s a very unique situation for the faculty, staff and students, who can take the open fitness classes free of charge. We have yoga, Zumba, cardio, dance fitness. The concept is to educate and engage and fortify the whole student, the whole person.”
MOV Yoga (Mid Ohio Valley)
Martha holds her class in The Marietta Dance Academy, 154 Gross Street, Frontier/Giant Eagle Shopping Center. Classes are $10 each, or $90 for a 10-class card which does not expire. Martha teaches a power yoga class, and alternates with a Yin yoga class the third Sunday of the month.
“We represent a wide variety of styles in Marietta. We are right across from Vienna and Parkersburg, West Virginia. My primary objective in my body and in my students is awareness. To become aware of habits and patterns that we hold unconsciously that don’t serve us. So that’s often a shock to people to find out that, oh, that would feel better if I hold it this way. I have one women who swears that it’s a critical part of her psychology therapy… her talk therapy,” Martha says.
Her students often benefit by seeing the variety of other students in the room. Yoga becomes empowering when the practitioners see people of different ages and body types approaching the poses in a way that works best for them. “It’s awesome when someone stands on their hands or gets a pose they weren’t able to do before.” Martha embraces those moments of “self awareness and health” for her students, “It’s been a real joy.”
New to Yoga?
Here are some helpful tips.
- Drink plenty of water.
- Have a light snack an hour or two before class such as fruit or yogurt.
- Yoga mats are recommended instead of a Pilates mat or general exercise mat, because the yoga mats are generally longer to accommodate a person when they are lying down. The yoga mats are also a bit thinner, which helps maintain balance while in standing poses. If you ever take a class where they heat the room, bring a towel that you can place under your hands to prevent your hands sliding off the mat.
- Take breaks in child pose as needed.
- Drink some water as needed.
- Drink plenty of water.
Do you have any tips of your own that have helped you along your yoga journey? Please share in the comments.