Writer seeks magic of yoga.
Thirty-eight years between yoga sessions is a long time. The hamstrings get a little tight.
But the yoga studios that you see everywhere today are intriguing. There seems to be a surge of interest and a variety that we didn’t have in the 1970s, so I decided to find out what’s new. I remembered the way I felt when I practiced yoga … relaxed … all stretched out … an overall good feeling.
I entered the infrared-heated room at a local studio and the students were getting mentally prepared and stretching. Soft music was playing.
Yoga today is often amped up a few degrees … to about 95 degrees Fahrenheit, to be exact. Hot yoga is one of the current trends.
After a few sun salutations, I must have been perspiring a bit. The student next to me went out to the lobby and brought in a cool bottle of water for me.
But the heat seems to be conducive to the bending and stretching and getting into the moment. Proponents say it’s good for the joints.
The traditional forms of yoga are still available but many classes today involve more exercise and strength building.
“People are busy,” said Robin Neill-Kitaif , manager and teacher at Blue Moon Yoga and Fitness, 136 N. Orchard St. “Now people can get the benefits of yoga plus exercise.”
Although there’s much more variety available in yoga today, the principle remain the same.
“You breathe and move and release the mind,” Neill-Kitaif said. “That’s the point of yoga. It’s like hitting the reset button for the mind.”
Women tend to dominate the classrooms, but men are also taking part, she said. In a typical evening class, she may have 25 women and five men.
Yoga today is obviously growing in popularity.
Shelly Kwiatkouski, of Hot House Yoga, 1400 Hand Ave., said when she opened her studio in 2006, it was the only one she was aware of in Ormond Beach. Now, a Google search brings up half a dozen in Ormond Beach and it’s also taught at community centers and hospitals. There are 17 throughout Volusia County.
Kwiatkouski said the benefits of yoga “sneak up on you” after you start practicing.
“You’ll start to sleep better, you’ll be in a better mood,” she said. “You’ll have a better quality of life.’
She also encouraged me to practice it again, even after the decades-long layoff.
“You’re the perfect age,” she said. “You’ll find it’s important to be able to raise your arms above your head when you get older.”
Breathing correctly while practicing yoga is important. Often, when feeling stressed, I take some deep breaths and it usually helps. A yoga class is like taking a big, realaxing breath for the overall state of mind.
Trying to perform the postures, I realized how tight I had become. But, a convenient aspect of yoga is that you don't have to complete every posture like the experienced students. If you can’t raise the leg all the way, you raise it half way. So, I was able to get a workout.
After the class, I told Neill-Kitaif that I felt like going out and doing something, rather than just sitting behind a computer.
“That’s the magic of yoga,” she said.
Yoga students tell their stories
Laurie Bonk, of Ormond Beach, gets help from yoga for several aspects of her life.
She said many people take up yoga because of a traumatic event in their lives, such as losing a husband. She said she lost her son to suicide.
In addition to helping her deal with this tragedy, the reduction of stress also helped in her battle with Crohn’s Disease. Before starting yoga, she was taking six pills a day. Her doctor gradually reduced her medication and now she doesn’t take any.
“It’s an autoimmune disease caused by stress and yoga helps reduce stress,” she said.
The yoga has helped her in her job as a schoolteacher. Sometimes if she gets irritated in class a student will ask if she’s taken yoga recently.
Teresa Manganaro, who is studying to be a yoga teacher, describes yoga as a way of life. The concentration and clearing of the mind brings about meditation.
“It leads to self-awareness and an alignment of the body and soul. It’s an inner and outer practice.” she said. “It has absolutely changed my life .You surrender to a higher power and allow things to flow.”
She said you learn acceptance and to get over things such “that apology that is never going to come.’
Because of all the different postures and schools of yoga, a student can do something different every time they come.
“It’s called practicing yoga because you have to work at it some days more than others,” she said.”