6B - The Michigan Daily - Weekend Magazine - Thursday, January 23, 2003
The Michigan Daily - Weekend Magazite - Thursday,
Yoga: An ancient remedy to the stresses of the modern day
By Lauren Hodge
Daily Arts Writer
Hitting the streets of Ann Arbor
after Winter Break is seldom an
easy adjustment, especially con-
sidering the chilly, gloomy weather stu-
dents often suffer through. The
unwarranted stress many students feel
at the start of a new semester is never
welcomed and finding time to relax can
also be challenging. Fortunately, yoga
classes may offer just the remedy to
kick off stress and get back into shape
after the long holiday season.
Yoga provides a myriad of benefits to its
practitioners. One of its greatest advantages is
that it does not require expensive equipment or
gear as do some other forms of exercise.
Athletic ability and experience are also
unnecessary prerequisites in order to practice
the various yoga methods.
Different breathing exercises can be done at
anytime, whether it be waiting at the post
office, making a bed or even sitting in lecture.
When the first signs of stress emerge, cer-
tain breathing techniques can help convert a
migraine into a calm, relaxed state of mind.
Practicing just two or three yoga poses a day
can help sooth tense muscles.
A recent study conducted by researchers at
www triad.com lists yoga as a cure-all for over-
coming sleeping disorders. Yoga's holistic body
exercises may even help those with allergies,
high blood pressure and back pains. A 1998
study by Swami Saraswati, director and
founder of the Bihar School of Yoga, also
found that when in a state of relaxation, the
level of systolic and diastolic blood pressure
will significantly decrease in the body. The
amount of adrenaline and cortisal, two stress
hormones secreted by the adrenal glands, will
also decrease dramatically.
The CCRB's U-Move program offers seven
different yoga classes and a few Pilates courses
for those looking to free the body and mind.
The assortment of winter classes are instructed
Plaza, the Ann Arbor School of Yoga also
offers a variety of classes at different levels.
Director Laurie Blakeney teaches the Iyen-
gar tradition of Patanajala Yoga, which focuses
equally on flexibility, strength, stamina and
balance with a strong emphasis on correct
The Pranayama class, open to those at the
intermediate levels, concentrates on meditative
breathing and breathing control. Ann Arbor
resident Sharon Dieterich said she finds solace
and comfort in this yoga class.
"The biggest benefit that I've experienced
from yoga is an improved awareness of my
body parts," Dieterich said. "It also helped to
better my stamina, muscle strength and flexi-
bility," she added.
Judith Cauhorn, another of Blakeney's stu-
dents, finds mental rewards in the yoga experi-
ence. "I think a lot of people forget that it is
important to let go of yourself sometimes, and
yoga provides such an outlet. Yoga works best
when you are comfortable in your own skin.
With time, you will better understand your
body and its limits."
Those who wish to take yoga at a slower
pace may join the Gentle Yoga class where
poses are taught with several modifications.
The Ann Arbor School of Yoga welcomes its
students to their programs during the sched-
uled hours. Students can either pay a $3 drop-
in fee or purchase a $30 practice card that
allow up to 15 visits. The winter session lasts
Bodies in Balance, located at 211 E. Ann St.,
also provides a variety of yoga classes for a
total of eight weeks. Students can purchase a
membership for $46 or may pay $6 for each
Though it can be difficult to put aside that
overflowing stack of books on your desk, it is
equally important to listen to your body's
needs. Most yoga classes last only an hour, and
the benefits of breathing exercises and medita-
tion will probably supercede those of watching
television or taking a nap. So when that painful
migraine or aching back start up again,
remember the power of yoga and its ability to
PHOTOS BY JON TRIEST/Daily
Nursing sophomore Kathryn Lebowitz demonstrates how yoga can relieve stress and tension.
at beginner and advanced levels so that anyone yoga provides a multitude of benefits.
can partake in this soul-searching, body-free- "It helps with body circulation, especially
ing exercise. after a long day of sitting in classes. Yoga is
Yoga Hour, by far the most popular class also a great way to improve posture, balance
offered, follows the Iyengar method - a spe- and flexibility," Huang said.
cific type of hatha yoga. This method is based University research scientist Nathan Bos
on a philosophy of meditation that is detail- practicess yoga to alleviate lower back pain. "It
oriented, even though the person is physically really helps to move your muscles around. My
still. Iyengar yoga focuses on the body's align- friends and I do it mainly to relieve bodily ten-
ment while doing asanas. In other words, prac- sions. Many people don't consider yoga to be
titioners use very aerobic, but
props such as "I think a lot of people forgetyou can still get a
belts or blocks for good work-out."
body support to that it is important to let go of In this sense,
help keep the motivation is key to
body in properyourself sometimes, and yoga pro-achieving the maxi-
alignment. mum benefits of
I n s t r u c t o rVides such an outlet." yoga. The more
Stephanie Bent- effort one is willing
ley, who has been - Judith Cauhornto put into the exer-
classes since Sep-
"Whereas running and other sports may be
hard on the joints, yoga is light on the body.
This is a healthy form of exercise because it
helps those who practice it work the mind and
Many of her students view yoga as an oppor-
tunity to relieve the daily stress caused by
classes, school work and other body-numbing
activities. Meditation can calm the mind with
its relaxing effects and may offer the perfect
mental getaway whenever needed.
Cathy Huang, a Public Health student, said
cises, the more of a
Yoga Student workout the practi-
tioner will get.
The Central Campus Recreation Building
also offers Yoga I for those who seek a more
challenging level of exercise. Precise Iyengar
style is practiced in this class and helps
improve strength, flexibility, stamina and bal-
ance. For the most experienced yoga students,
one class of Yoga II is available to help develop
all five groups of posture standing poses, back
bends, forwards bends, twists and inversions.
Classes range in price from $75 to $112 and
cover the full ten-week course.
Located downtown in the Town Center'