A HEALTHY DOSE
Yoga. Even if you’ve never been to a class, you’ve probably heard the buzz around this practice of physical and mental well-being. Statistics show that 36.7 million people in the United States say that they practice yoga, up from 20 million just three years ago.
We are blessed to have some super low-key studios in which to practice yoga in our region. Unlike city yoga studios that are packed to the brim and can be intimidating, Rutland’s yoga classes, in my experience, have always been relaxed and welcoming. Even my father, a septuagenarian from Kansas, felt comfortable going to a yoga class with me in Rutland. He relaxed to the point that he let out some snores during the shavasana at the end of class, one of my favorite memories of him.
To learn more about yoga’s health benefits, I reached out to two of Rutland’s yoga teachers: Stephanie Jones, E-RYT, who teaches at Vermont Sport & Fitness, Cobra Gymnastics & Dance, Rutland Recreation Department, Castleton University and Mill River Union High School; and Rebekah Rose Robichaud, of the newly opened Live Love Yoga studio on Center Street in downtown Rutland.
1. How long have you been teaching yoga?
SJ: I have been practicing yoga for over 20 years and teaching yoga to adults for 12 years; I also taught yoga to children for a few years prior to teaching yoga to adults.
RRR: I’ve been consistently teaching for almost a year.
2. What are some of the health benefits of yoga?
SJ: Physical strength and flexibility, mental balance, outlet for energy and emotions, equilibrium and balance.
RRR: There are physical benefits to yoga, including increased flexibility, strength, and overall body awareness. There are also emotional and mental benefits, including the decrease in stress, and equanimity.
3. What changes have you witnessed in your own health since you started a yoga practice?
SJ: Greater physical strength, mental clarity and calmness.
RRR: I feel my own health is the best it has ever been. I fell in love with yoga for the philosophy, not the physical practice. My life is more peaceful and I feel I have a greater connection to myself, others, and the planet.
4. Health changes or success stories you’ve witnessed in your students?
SJ: The most incredible experience I have had teaching yoga is having a man who is in a wheelchair due to having his legs amputated tell me the one-hour class I had just taught gave him the most physical sensation he had experienced since his legs had been removed.
RRR: I think that success is a very personal and relative term. I believe anyone who leaves the studio with a greater awareness of their breath and one less layer of stress is living a success story.
5. What would you recommend for someone who has never tried yoga? Any poses or types of classes in particular? Any mindset?
SJ: I would encourage someone new to yoga to attend several classes to try out various styles of yoga and instructors. Yoga can be incredibly gentle to moderate to very vigorous, so there really is a practice for everyone. Teachers also have very different ways of structuring a practice, so a new student should take time to find a teacher whose class really appeals to them. Also, students should feel free to ask an instructor questions before they attend a class, at the start of class, and after a class.
RRR: I would recommend having an open mind, letting go of any preconceptions. I would recommend going to a class geared toward beginners just to start getting familiar with the postures. And don’t forget to have fun, smile and laugh!