Why Yoga? Physical exercise, tension release and mental decompression are some of the reasons why people practice yoga.
It is very early on a Saturday morning and residents of northern Brunswick County are gathering outside the studio of 4ever24fit with mats and towels in hand. The rest of the businesses around the Waterford shopping complex remain quiet while, one by one, women arrive at the studio ready to attend a yoga class.
Inside, the lights are low, and colorful mats are spread out across the wood floors. The instructor checks the stereo equipment as students gather mats and blocks from the back shelves. When class begins, the students sit quietly on their mats and set an intention for their practice. Then they start some breathing exercises and warm-up stretches.
The class lasts an hour, and students flow from one pose to another, often in a series of set sequences called Vinyasa, breathing in and out to the cues of the instructor. One of the most fundamental parts of yoga is the linkage of breath and movement. Students are encouraged to focus on their breathing to help them maintain difficult poses. One of the breathing practices is called ujjayi breathing, in which the practitioner makes a hissing sound by constricting the back of the throat when exhaling, in order to give the mind an audible focal point while practicing.
The class concludes with a few minutes of Savasana, or Corpse Pose. Students are asked to lie on their backs and completely relax their bodies, letting go of any physical or mental tension. Corpse Pose is considered by yogis to be one of the most important of all the poses because it quiets the mind and the central nervous system after the rigors of practicing. A yoga session is not complete without a few minutes of this pose at the end.
This balance between physical exercise and mental decompression is one of the reasons why many people enjoy yoga. With challenging movements, deep breathing and a focus on letting go of errant thoughts, yoga offers a means to release tension from their stressful lives.
After class I catch up with student Deigh Timmons to ask her why she comes to the studio so early on Saturdays. “I love it,” she says. “I feel so good afterward and I’m relaxed and ready to start my day.”