Tehachapi Parks & Rec will begin offering 90 minute yoga classes in January. Beginning Wednesday, Jan. 9, Shanan Harrell will lead classes in the meeting room of the parks office at 490 W. “D” St. Classes begin at 5:30 p.m. every Wednesday evening. Sign up at the parks office or by calling 822-3228. The program is free and space is limited.
I asked Shanan to tell us more about yoga and this is what she shared:
Top 10 Reasons for Not Trying Yoga in 2013
In your list of New Year resolutions, have you considered starting a yoga practice? Before you make a beeline to your stretchy pant drawer, why not deliberate all the lame excuses you could use to skip out:
Body? What body? I have a body?
(Benefit: increased body awareness). Most of us live so much in our heads that we forget we're walking around in this amazing mechanism called the human body. We've become so deeply disconnected that when asked to stretch the arms or lift the chest, we're completely stumped. It's not uncommon to hear a student ask if her arms are straight because she simply can't distinguish straight from bent in her own body. One of the first perceptible yoga gifts is a heightened physical awareness.
I'm one decaf latte away from a very ugly meltdown.
(Benefit: stress reduction). Stress is profoundly destructive and potentially lethal. Yoga practice includes physical movement, breath awareness and conscious relaxation, all proven tamers of the stressdragon. Yoga's effect of lowering levels of hormone neurotransmitters creates a feeling of calm; research points to a boost in oxytocin, the so-called trust and bonding hormone that's associated with feeling relaxed and connected to others.
My heart can't take it.
(Benefit: heart health). One of the most studied areas of the health benefits of yoga is its effect on heart disease. Yoga has long been known to lower blood pressure and slow the heart rate which benefits people with hypertension, heart disease and stroke. (Stress, anyone?) Yoga is a key component of the program designed by Dean Ornish, MD, to reverse heart disease through lifestyle and diet rather than surgery. On the biochemical level, yoga has been associated with decreased cholesterol and triglyceride levels as well as a boost in immune system function.
I have balance problems.
(Benefit: finding equanimity) Balance issues are challenging. Yoga's attention to a strong, solid foundation is key. When balance is an issue, practicing asana (yoga poses) with the support of a wall is very helpful. Developing an acute awareness of the feet coupled with an energetic sense of grounding can go a long way in finding your physical balance point. And, of course, cultivating a balanced mind can also be beneficial. Yeah, there's that.
Yoga is for wimps.
(Benefit: physical strength and endurance). Ha ha ha ha. Most folks who make this proclamation have never attended a yoga class. Yoga can be as challenging as any physical exercise or sport. Try some deep back-bending or standing on your head for 15 minutes and see how wimpy it feels. Yoga develops strength and endurance just as effectively as it develops flexibility and balance.
(Benefit: improved mental health) In a demonstration of personal transparency, this is the reason I sought out yoga: a heavy depression. I felt perceptibly better after my very first session. Nearly every yogi will testify they feel happier and more contented after class, a benefit that may result from yoga's boosting oxygen levels to the brain. Or maybe it's the stretchy pants.
I can't focus.
(Benefit: greater clarity) Concentration and the ability to mentally focus are common benefits you'll hear from yoga students. As asana practice develops your capacity for focused attention on the body, it also develops your capacity for focused attention toward life's endless mysteries. Like remembering what it was you were looking for in the refrigerator as you stand there, fridge door open, wondering what it was you were looking for.
I'm too stiff, too old, too fat.
(Benefit: lose the lame excuses) I've often begun class by asking if anyone has injuries or other chronic physical conditions with the stipulation that being old and/or fat doesn't count. This usually gets a giggle of recognition from the students. Truth is, yoga is appropriate for all ages, sizes and levels of (in)flexibility.
My back/ shoulders/ hips/whatever hurts.
(Benefit: freedom from pain) By using asana along with meditation and breath work, pain can be managed and minimized. I have been the happy witness to many students relieving chronic pain through their commitment to yoga practice. Don't let pain be your excuse; let it be your motivation!
I'm afraid to meet Yoga Shanan.I
(Benefit: loads of fun) Understandable, but don't waste time living in the prison of your fear. Get your asana to class.
Feel free to email Shanan with your questions about participating in TVRPD’s yoga class: email@example.com.
DEBBIE WILLIAMS is Interim Manager of the Tehachapi Valley Recreation and Parks District.