14 - The Michigan Daily - Friday, September 10, 1997
By Ericka M. Smith U Daily Staff Reporter
D uring these unseasonably warm fall
days, Ann Arbor is alive with joggers,
roller bladders and bikers trying to
catch the last hours of sunny workout weath-
These fitness fanatics speed by, equipped
with headphones and performance gear to
tune out the world.
But these exercise buffs are not the only
ones stretching and sweating in this college
town. Hundreds of Ann Arbor residents and
students take a different approach to exercise,
enrolling in alternative programs such as yoga
and tai chi.
These two options provide a different kind
of workout than the average gym equipment,
which mainly targets muscle building and aer-
obic activity. These exercises tend to incor-
porate the entire being, without use of equip-
Yoga: "It is involving
your whole being"'
Many people associate yoga with its reli-
gious origins in India. But a growing trend of
yoga practitioners are men and women of all
ages, races and religious backgrounds.
Ann Arbor instructor Frederic Ferri offers
personal yoga training sessions in his Yoga
Pro studio on Fountain Street.
Ferri said he has taught yoga to people from
all walks of life, including hockey players
from the Detroit Red Wings. The Yoga Pro
instructor said it is important that people are
not afraid to come to yoga classes and "try
"People all too often associate yoga with
religion or meditation," Ferri said. "Actually,
you will find people of all beliefs practice
yoga and that it is very physical."
Yoga is an ancient form of exercise that
involves meditation, relaxation and breathing.
The combination of these three elements
results in the ability to form poses with the
body that tone and strengthen muscles.
Around town, yoga classes are not unusu-
al. Many are offered throughout the commu-
nity in the work place, private studios and
even at the Central Campus Recreation
At first glance, yoga might appear to be
unnatural, but instructors say there is nothing
unusual about it at all.
Donna Pointer, a certified yoga instructor,
teaches at the Ann Arbor Senior Center and
in her west side studio, Yoga the Iynegar
"Yoga is a system of coordination of your
body your mind. It emphasizes precision and
alignment in the whole," Pointer said.
Pointer said the exercise is not new to the
world but there are many different ways yoga
"Yoga is a very ancient form of self-disci-
pline and self-development," Pointer said.
"Most of the yoga in the Ann Arbor area is
based on the Iyengar method."
B.K.S. Iyengar, a native of Funa, India, has
spent much of his 80 years practicing and set-
ting guidelines for yoga instruction. Many
who teach his method have usually gone to
India to study with him.
The ideas and principals surrounding yoga
require individuals to learn breathing tech-
niques in conjunction with exercise, relax-
ation, diet and thinking.
"It is involving your whole being -
your mind and your body," Pointer said.
"It is a focused control kind of work. It's
not jumping around. It's not running
The benefits of practicing yoga include the
regaining of flexibility in joints and muscles
groups, Ferris said. He also emphasized the
importance of heart patients to turn to yoga.
"Yoga is ideal for people with heart condi-
tions," Ferris said. "It is the best way to under-
stand what stress is and its effects on the body
and circulatory function and respiratory effi-
Practicing yoga does not require the use
of equipment but Ferri, an Ann Arbor
native, designs and markets his own yoga
equipment to help people "do the poses
The equipment helps many yoga practition-
ers form the "correct poses" when either
beginning or doing the exercises alone.
The majority of instructors urge their stu-
dents to use floor mats or carpeted areas to
avoid injury from hard floors.
At the University, yoga instruction is taught
in the theater program as well as at the CCRB.
Theatre Prof. Jerry Scheriber said he
instructs his students on the principles of yoga
and tai chi in an effort to teach them control
of their bodies.
Scheriber said the practicing of yoga in his
classes not only increase his students physi-
cal appearance, but "it has a lot of health ben-
MBA second-year student Janeene Sears does "asanas" in the studio of Yoga the lyengar Way
at 310 Gralake Rd.
people lose dur-
ing the aging
process due to
lack of full
turn to yoga as an
alternative to the
"I't really opened up a
whole new structure
- Lynlee Sky
CCRB yoga instructor
efits," he said.
"It's for neuro-mus-
cular repatterning. We
want our performers to
move without tension,"
Schreiber said. "The
idea is that when they
go into the performance
they won't clutch or
of health con-
handicaps or even boredom with their usual
Laura Arendsen, an Ann Arbor resident,
said she felt "really good and really relaxed"
after taking yoga classes at the Zen Buddhist
Temple on Packard Street.
"I learned a long time ago that when doing
things like aerobics and running (that) the
value of stretching (is important)," Arendsen
said. "Stretching lengthens the muscles so that
you don't look bulky."
This low-impact exercise concentrates on
making one conscious of breathing and pos-
ture by forming asanas - structured yoga
The health benefits of yoga can extend to
many people who suffer from scoliosis, lower
back problems by stretching those muscle
Yoga classes are
available at the CCRB
this semester and will be taught at the North
Campus Recreation Building in the winter.
This semester, more than 80 students are
enrolled in the yoga classes.
Lynlee Sky, a CCRB yoga instructor, said
she started practicing yoga six years ago. Sky
said it has brought a new philosophy to her
"It really opened up a whole new structure
for me. It made me more aware of my body,"
Sky said. "I may not live longer but the qual-
ity of my life will be better."
Yoga is unlike any form of exercise in the
western world, where mainly aerobic exercis-
es like jogging are practiced, she said.
Sky said the western world should adopt
the "exercise mentalities" easterners have
perfected" over centuries.
"I think that western culture is a very
active culture (in exercise) without intelli-
gence," Sky said. "There is no intelligence
and concentration (involved in Western
Tai chi: an "internal
form of martial art"
Alternative exercise programs are as
diverse as the average workout room, which
is equipped with machines ranging from free
weights to stairmasters.
Tai chi, a Chinese martial art exercise, is
nearly as popular as yoga.
The two share many principles, such as a
concentration on breathing and forming
poses. However, tai chi involves learning
martial art movements in slow motion.
At Asian Martial Art Studio on South
Fourth Street, a variety of alternative exercise
programs are offered, including aikido, jujit-
su and tai chi.
Karl Scott, the studio's executive direc-
tor, said tai chi is a popular course that
concentrates on "bettering circulation" in
"Tai chi is a Chinese internal form of mar-
tial art," Scott said. "It is a very soft flowing
Asian Exercise Spots
Asian Martial Arts Studios
208 S. Fourth Ave.
3 B.C. Yu-Martial Arts Center
857 W. Eisenhowser Pwky.
Yoga the lyengar Way
By Donna Pointer and Associates
310 Gralake Rd.
0 Yoga Pro Studio
1013 Fountain St.
Zen Buddhist Temple
1214 Packard St.
type of movement that is done very slowly in
Its slow movements and low-impact exer-
cises make it one of the best forms of exercis-
es available to those ailing from pulled mus-
cles and joint injuries, Scott said.
"It's basically zero impact on joints and
bones. It employs every muscle in your
body in a well rounded balance way,"
Arendsen, who has taken tai chi in addition
to yoga classes, described tai chi as a form of
"It's basically a series of movements try-
ing to harmonize with your breath," she
said. "It's a tool to bring the mind and body
Tai chi is only one of several alternative
exercise programs offered at B.C. Yu Martial
Arts in the Colonnade Shopping Center on
The owner, a Korean grand master with an
eighth degree black belt, whom the store is
named after, said tai chi targets many muscle
"Every part of your body is worked, espe-
cially around your waist, thighs;legs and but-
tocks," Yu said. "It is mostly used to stretch
and twist around. that area."
Yu said the majority of the people in his
classes tend to be "middle-aged women"
who want to tone and strengthen muscles.
But Yu said he strongly urges men to join
because they too can benefit from tai chi
Tai chi is not yoga. It involves learning
basic principals of Chinese martial arts. Many
of tai chi's slow movements and poses are
taken from self-defense mechanisms, Scott
Although many studios offer tai chi class-
es, some people exercise by themselves.
Rackham student Steve Libbey said he has
been practicing tai chi for more than three
Libbey said the exercises give him "an
excuse to make sometime for (myself)" 20 to
30 minutes a day.
"It's easy and precise if you really get
into it," Libbey said. "It's not hard in the
sense of strenuous. It's tasking in that you
take the time in focusing on what you're
Yoga 'asanas' or postures
Ana Hough, an instructor at Yoga I
demonstrates a backward bend.
Hough uses a strap to posture herself in a forward
Hough stretches her legs and arms in an upward