Seeking a new method of exercise for the new year? Consider yoga, which joins physical, mental and spiritual disciplines. Benefits range from decreasing stress and improving flexibility and strength, to balancing your blood pressure and boosting your immune system.
There are many styles of yoga and finding the right class, instructor and practice can be daunting. I’ve done research and taken classes at Dublin studios to make it easier for you – and learned a lot about myself along the way.
In yoga, you check your ego at the door and focus only on the breath, simple movements and your personal daily intentions. I realized I don’t have to be competitive in all athletics and can leave the “winning” on the tennis court. I also learned that if I can clear my mind of the to-do lists and worries, I will be calmer and sharper during the day and sleep deeper at night.
My 12-year-old, Catie, put it best when she said, “After yoga class is the best time to ask my mom for something because she is nice and peaceful.”
PAI Yoga and Fitness
Owner Chan White’s interest in yoga began when she had pain in her shoulder that the doctors couldn’t pinpoint and she tried bikram – hot yoga – to relieve the pain. Chan was hooked and started the teacher training immediately.
“Being a teacher is a privilege,” says Chan. “I want my lessons to affect my students in and out of the classroom. I want them to live a life of joy, love and forgiveness.”
I took the Hot Power Flow Level 2 class and felt immediately at peace in the quiet sanctuary of a room. It was hot but comforting, and Chan’s voice put everyone at ease as she shared a personal story about her pet and asked each of us to concentrate on someone in our life who brings us great joy.
She constantly reminded participants to inhale and exhale slowly and focus on the breath. Chan walked around during class and altered our positions, encouraging us to open up more and sink into our poses as sweat poured off our bodies. During shavasana, the restful ending portion, I could have fallen fast asleep.
“Many people are intimidated by yoga and make excuses like, ‘I’m not flexible,’” says Chan. “But yoga is more about the change inside like getting rid of anger and seeking forgiveness. Flexibility and strength are not the purpose, but rather, things that happen along the way.”
Dublin resident Jennifer Gleichauf, founder of Nurture Yoga, says she felt like she had enjoyed a massage after her first yoga class. She wanted to throw herself into it, become a teacher and spread that feeling to others.
Jennifer says it’s a common misconception to think one needs to lose weight before starting yoga. “There is a class for everyone from ages 4 to 94 and many modifications that can be made; you just need to find the right fit,” she says.
I took a Level 1 class in Nurture Yoga’s new Post Road studio, which was cozy and inviting. Jennifer addressed our breathing and our focus for the day on someone in our life who needs forgiveness. The class was very gentle and enjoyable – something I could take my mother to when she visits from Connecticut. I especially enjoyed the shavasana, when Jennifer gave a short shoulder, neck and head massage to each of her students.
Nurture Yoga also has two-hour restorative yoga classes used to de-stress and aid in healing, chair yoga for seniors and those with disabilities, and preschool yoga for 4- and 5-year-olds.
Heidi Bell co-owns Harbor Yoga in downtown Dublin. Heidi, who taught spinning classes for six years, says she hated yoga the first time she took a class. A year later she saw how fun yoga could be with the right music, flow and style, so she and Angie O’Brien opened up a studio that reflects their taste. Harbor Yoga focuses on strength training and core abdominal work with traditional and challenging poses, utilizing heat and powerful music.
Heidi says yoga has changed her approach to life. “After doing an hour or more and getting that ‘yoga glow,’ I don’t want to ruin it by eating bad food or drinking too much.”
At Harbor, I took the Beginner class with my husband, Tony, and the Strong class, which includes weights. The room is warm to hot, the music blares and the energy is high. It was vinyasa flow yoga, so I moved through positions quickly and smoothly as sweat dripped constantly onto my towel. The level of ability in the class ranged greatly but everyone focused on their own workout and goals.
No matter where you take a class, yoga can be life-changing and it is completely non-threatening. Take time for yourself; you deserve it. Namaste.