Saturday, March 5, 2011

Inhale an age old remedy

The glass door opens to a spacious room toned with hues of red and gold. The warm wooden floor reflects orbs of dim lights scattered about. Soft chatter fills the spaces of air as I kick off my shoes and add to the mountain already piled at the entrance. I step on to the smooth black mat, and breathing in it begins.

Yoga, it is an ancient art form known for meditation that dates back as early as 3300 BC. But for health nuts, especially in California, it is seen as a means of exercise. But, within this ceremony of breath and strained poses there is a sanctuary that many in these difficult times seek.

Yoga, for me, is a rebuilding of energy, finding that which is lost in the chaos of the workweek. As many health experts are beginning to notice, most individuals in this economic downturn are looking for the same. The Mayo Clinic posted an article stating that chronic stress can lead to a variety of health and emotional problems. The article suggests yoga as a way to lower this risk as well as boost overall health benefits; increased fitness and weight loss. While yoga brings together mental and physical disciplines, it is proven to leave the mind less riddled with problematic tension.

Kaiser Permanente has even backed behind the yoga industry claiming it aids in lowering high blood pressure, helps asthmatics breath easier and improves fatigue within individuals suffering from multiple sclerosis.

“People come to yoga to release stress, they rely on the practice as a form of escape,” said Rancho Cucamonga yoga and wellness nutritionist Doug Moss. “I know it is one of the major ways I am making it through this recession.”

Moss explained that the human body holds most of its tension in the lower back and jaw, and through yoga, one is forced to relax those areas.

“I remind my group about every few minutes to relax the jaw, you would be surprised at how much just doing that can help.” Moss said.

The room is darkened, and files with a quick warm air as the smell of faint spices waft through the room. I hear the instructions, “Urdhva Hastasana” and my arms raise upward and rest just in front of my heart. With slow rhythmic motions my body makes a dance across the now sturdy mat. Small beads of water form at my brow like a crown and I make a stance reflecting that of a poised ballerina. My hands rooted in the earth and my crown raised to the sky. It is through these motions that I find my grounding in the calamities of a full school and work load.

With many firm believers in yoga, the focus on breath is the craze that can get everyone hooked on this practice. “Exhale all of your worries and inhale all of your aspirations,” said Master instructor Gina Decker. “It is what gets me through the day.”

There are studios throughout each city, some almost blocks away. Many of them, like Green Tara Yoga in Upland have discounts for students. A special way that this particular studio aids the community is by actually setting up special package for those suffering during the times. On Sunday’s the studio holds a donation class where people pay what they can, even if it is only a few cents.

“We do not want anyone to miss out, we will try and make it anyway possible for people to come here and rejuvenate,” Moss said. “There are options for everyone.”

The diverse poses within the actual session is what makes the mind veer away from any stress related material. As the body heats up, the warmth is calming and can have a positive effect on the mind. When warmed up and at the peak of my practice, I find that my body begins to sway and take its own positions as to almost unwind itself.

“You have to be able to have a place to release and have solace for an hour,” said Moss.

Resting in child pose, my rushed breathes from the hours workout cool to a soft hum. My eyes open to the warm lights that begin to take back their place in the room. The journey is over for now, back to the work and stresses of the real world. But in returning, life is a new. The worries which entered an hour earlier now dwindle. The group and myself pack up for home, to return another day to this therapeutic workout.

“This place we come to, the space that we share is communal. It is how we can grow and heal in times of hardship,” said Moss.

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