The most interesting thing to me about Beverly’s Yoga/Stretch class is that it has established such a great following. This isn’t a comment on her teaching skills, which are plentiful, but the fact that there’s a demand for a class with conscious relaxation as its focus. I’m not sure that demand existed at our Club, five years ago. The fact that it exists today seems like a good thing to me, which I’ll explain in a moment.
Included in class today are a number of people who I know are “hard core” exercisers. That is, I’m accustomed to seeing them working their bodies strenuously – so, it’s interesting to see them coming to the Yoga/Stretch class. Several of them even stop to tell me how much they enjoy this class.
In my own exercise odyssey I’ve come to appreciate more and more the need for rest and rejuvenation. For me, it’s a complement to, not a negation of the hard work that’s also needed for the body to operate at its peak. There’s also a difference, I’ve found, between taking a nap and/or getting 7-8 hours of sleep (also great) and doing some conscious, mindful relaxing of muscles. The fact is most of us live stressful lives and incessant exposure to stress has a deleterious impact on our bodies. To counteract that, I believe, it’s helpful periodically to “consciously” let go of everything and relax.
Yoga is especially good for this type of relaxing. (I should point out that it’s possible to practice yoga with great intensity – filled with extreme physical effort and that has its place too but that isn’t the aspect of yoga I’m talking about here.) By focusing on the breath and paying attention to each movement that is made, yoga links the mind and the body. It might seem at first blush that our minds and bodies are always linked but my observation tells me that isn’t so. Most of the time I’m thinking or worrying about something in the past or future and my body is reacting to those thoughts in an unconscious way. Over time, that unconsciousness results in tight muscles, high blood pressure and other physical ailments and imbalances.
In Beverly’s class we do yoga postures, which both stretch and tone the muscles but the softness of her voice, the soft lighting and ethereal music all have the effect of slowing us down, which results in relaxation. All yoga classes end with “Shavasana” or “corpse pose” which is dedicated to a cessation of all effort. Today, in Beverly’s class we do our final resting pose with our legs up the wall. This is the most gentle of all inversions and can be done without any effort. It also feels really good and is said to be helpful in rejuvenating the legs and body in general.
Today’s class had about twenty folks in it, including three men. The $25 gift certificate goes to Renae Peterson.