Admit it. You know it’ll make you feel better. You know you should be doing it. Yes, I’m talking about yoga, and I keep putting it off too. So, what’s stopping us?
For me, I keep getting stuck in the same old rut in how I think about a “workout.” Being a former athlete, I’m locked into the idea of going to the gym, breaking a sweat on a machine, lifting some weights, suffering the consequences in my arthritic joints for the next 24-48 hours… and then avoiding the gym for several days.
A conversation with Barbara Kosciewicz, director of High Street Yoga and Wellness, though, has given me new hope that I can break the cycle. The idea of yoga is to open yourself up, and in that spirit, I asked Barbara to tell us what it’s all about. For more details and to see photos of her tranquil studio – yes, you can find inner peace on High Street! – check out her website and her blog.
High Street Yoga and Wellness is on the second floor at 141 E. High Street, above the Academy of Massage Therapy and Bodyworks. Their refurbished and air-conditioned building is across the street from Borough Hall, where there’s ample parking. (More on the Academy in a future post.)
PP: What’s a typical class like? How long is it?
BK: There are many styles and types of yoga. I really like to help people focus on slowing down, focusing on their breath and truly relaxing. A class is an hour and fifteen minutes. The beginning is all about settling in. It’s hard to walk in the door and just start meditating. So we take deep breaths, focusing on the breathing. Then we move into gentle stretching, easing into the physical practice of yoga. The last 10-15 minutes are for deep relaxation.
PP: Your website says: “A typical class at High Street Yoga offers breath awareness, centering/meditation, sequenced and clearly explained asana (physical postures) and, of course, Savasana (final relaxation).” Where do all those strange words come from?
BK: There is an ancient Indian text, written in Sanskrit, that’s called the Yoga Sutras by Patanjali. It’s based on 8 philosophies or steps to achieve a quiet mind. It’s not a religion. That’s where the terms come from.
PP: What if I’ve never meditated before. What happens?
BK: I guide the class to use their breath to still their minds. Meditation is really all about quieting the mind. We take deep, full breaths in and out. The idea is to stop yourself from thinking about work, your day, your lists. Your breath is the one thing that’s constant. That’s the place to always come back to.
By the way, I don’t incorporate chanting into my classes. I want everyone to be comfortable, and some people may be put off by chanting.
Traditionally, yogis did the physical practice of the poses so that they could sustain long hours of meditation. The Western take on this, though, is the reverse – more physical practice, less meditation.
PP: How can I do yoga if I can’t even touch my toes?
BK: You don’t have to be completely flexible in order to do yoga. There are several versions of a pose, so I can help people do what’s comfortable for them. We have props, such as blocks and straps, to help people do the poses at their own comfort level.
PP: How many people are in a class, and what should I bring?
BK: The class size varies. There could be anywhere from 3-9 people. We have mats that people can borrow, or you can bring your own. Dress comfortably, preferably in layers. And bring a water bottle. Classes cost $12 each, and there are packages available.