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What Kind Of Yoga Does Diane Teach?

When Greg Priddy, cyclist, customer, friend, and the other voice you hear on The Outspoken Cyclist, asked me this recently, I was reminded again why so many people shy away from the practice of yoga.  It tends to convey something mysterious, religious, or overly-spiritual to many.  That is far from reality.

Yoga is an ancient yet very modern form of physical/mental/spiritual practice.  Those who are “traditionally” trained such as I am are immersed in a program that teaches all aspects of the practice. The minimum training for certification is 200 “contact” hours with a teacher-program + all the studying and outside-the-classroom classes you are required to take. Upon completion of the training, we each take a basic understanding of yoga with us.  We do not, however, all travel down the same teaching path. 

I teach what is considered a “traditional” form of yoga called “Hatha” or “Raja” yoga.  It is practiced all over the world and focuses on stretching, limbering, relaxation, balance, and breathing.  I like to think of it as an “holistic” practice, one that brings you to a place of feeling good when you leave the studio.  The emphasis is on being aware of what you are doing, holding the postures (traditionally called "asanas") for some length of time, and moving from sequence to sequence slowly, with the help of your breath.

The word “yoga” loosely translated is “union” or “yoking” – hence we say things like mind-body-spirit in an effort to bring all the various conscious aspects of your “being” onto the mat. 

Rather than a solely physical, mental, or spiritual experience, the effect of being mindful of this integration is to establish a place to begin your practice – whether it’s at the beginning of the class or between sequences.  Each time you stop and “regroup” – or as I say “clear your mind” – you begin from a place that asks you to focus so that you not only get the most out of the posture but also have a much better chance of not going too far and injuring yourself.

There are many “forms” of yoga now being practiced in the U.S.  My practice tends to appeal to those who are not looking for a hot and heavy “workout”.  You will absolutely notice a huge difference at the end of your practice but it doesn’t come from a fast, aerobic session. 

I like to think that my style of yoga works especially well for cyclists because it stresses the use of the breath and works the entire body from head to toes.  Some of the more pronounced benefits are an increased ability to climb, better balance on the bike, and stronger upper body.  (Cyclists tend to neglect their upper bodies in favor of developing the legs!)

Lastly, I have chosen to leave any chanting or singing out of my classes.  The room is warm but not over-heated, the lighting is dim, there are no mirrors in the room, and the studio accommodates a small number of students – maximum of 12 or 13.  My classes have a fairly even mix of men and women.  The average age of my students is 50+, although I’ve taught as young as 8 and as old as 85+.  Every class is suitable for every student – from beginner to advanced practitioner.  You work at your own pace to your own limits.  Everything is clearly and simply explained – continually.  There is a relaxation period at the beginning with a longer, more sustained period of meditative relaxation at the end.  No two classes are exactly alike.

There is a calendar of classes on line. At this time, I teach four classes per week - two morning and two evening. You are always welcome.

As we say in the yogic tradition - Namaste!**

**What does Namaste mean? (from Yoga For Every Body)

At the end of each yoga class most teachers bring their hands together in front of the heart, bow their head and say "Namaste" and the students bring their hands together and respond in kind. Have you ever wondered exactly what Namaste means? A good definition of Namaste would be "I bow to your true self". The true self might be seen as the deeper, more essential you, less connected to ego, social expectations and pretensions. So the exchange of Namaste at the end of class is a wonderful way to honor the true self in each of us, and recognize that all life is interrelated. For a more in depth explanation take a look at this piece in Wikipedia or a shorter piece in Yoga Journal.

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