Release some stress with yoga

Ahhh, Namaste.

It’s the salutation spoken at the end of a peaceful and cathartic yoga class. The power and popularity of yoga has grown in recent years as a way to mentally and physically destress from the technology-driven over-stimulated world we live in.

Yoga teacher Kim Fischer demonstrates a yoga position to an advanced class at Lotus Life Yoga Center, 4467 E. Genesee St., DeWitt.

Yoga teacher Kim Fischer demonstrates a yoga position to an advanced class at Lotus Life Yoga Center, 4467 E. Genesee St., DeWitt.

Kim Fischer, owner of the Lotus Life Yoga Center, says yoga is built on the three basic principles: exercise, breathing and meditation. She said yoga promotes wellness, helps ease stress, and boosts balance, flexibility and muscle strength.

“It offers so many health benefits,” Fischer said. “Not only the physical body but the emotional and mental aspects.”

Mark Ward, of Fayetteville, has been practicing yoga ever since a co-worker convinced him to take a class seven years ago. The 57-year-old director of operations at a local manufacturer said yoga not only helps relieve tension from his job but provides a good source of exercise as well.

“Sometimes I’ll take a class in the morning and it sets the tone for the day,” Ward said.

Fischer, a certified yoga teacher, has more than 500 students pass through her studio on East Genesee Street each week. She said there is no age limit or required level of fitness required to practice yoga. All that’s needed is an open mind.

“All styles can be modified for beginners and experienced students alike,” she said.

Here’s a primer on how to get started to finding some inner peace.

Flex Time
The two main practices that serve as the foundation are Hatha and Vinyasa. Hatha includes postures, breathing awareness and focus techniques. Fischer said Vinyasa is the more challenging of the two and mixes sequenced movement with breathing.

Assume the position

Fischer ranked these three positions as the most basic for yoga newbies:
Posture pose (Asana): Students sit in a seated position, legs crossed in front. “This is how you learn how to breathe and get into the body,” Fischer said.
Tree pose (Vriksasana): There are different variations that include a student standing on one leg with the opposite foot placed on the ankle, calf or inner thigh. “It triggers balance in body and focus in the mind,” Fischer said.
Child’s pose (Balasana): This resting pose relaxes the body and helps circulate oxygen and blood.

Hit the mat

Purchasing a yoga mat is a must. Think of it as your personal island where you will sit, stand and lay down while practicing yoga. Studios and gyms have communal mats for students to use. But who wants to lay face down on a mat that multiple strangers have used?

Want something really different? Here’s a sampling of some unique yoga classes:

Hot Yoga:

Like to get a good sweat going? Hot Yoga is for you. At Lotus Life, this class takes place in a room where the heat is cranked up to 90-degrees with some extra humidity added to boot.

Essences Yoga:

Mirbeau Spa, in Skaneateles, offers a class that enhances the yoga experience with therapeutic oils such as spruce and grapefruit.

Arial Yoga:

A cross between Cirque Du Soleil and yoga exercise, students perform exercises while hanging upside down holding acrylic fabric that hangs from the ceiling.

Lotus Life offers this class three days a week.

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M.F. Piraino is a Syracuse-based free-lance writer. Email her with comments or story ideas at [email protected]. Follow her on Twitter @mfpiraino.

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