by Katherine Matutues
Ten years ago I started practicing yoga to reclaim some of the strength and flexibility that I had lost during a pregnancy that demanded 4 months of bed-rest. As with many yoga practitioners, I got involved for the stretch and physical challenge of yoga but I stayed with it for the immense sense of well-being and calm that accompanied my practice. At the end of most yoga classes there is a restful period called "shivasana" or final relaxation. Most classes reserve 10-15 minutes to allow the practitioner to enhance their mind-body connection while trying to keep the mind focused on stillness.
Turns out keeping your mind quiet is not an easy task, but the benefits are immense. Conscious relaxation is a type of meditation, which is now being studied for its vast array of health benefits including altering metabolism, blood pressure, reducing the effects of stress, reducing pain and increasing one’s overall sense of happiness and well-being. When I leave a class I notice my whole body is calmer and more relaxed. My shoulders are not hunched up by my ears, my jaw is not clenched, my mind is quiet and there is softness on my brow. The physical changes translate into behavioral ones as I find greater depths of patience and humor in dealing with my busy life as a working mother of two.
I became so enamored with the transformation that I became a certified instructor myself, in part to expand my own knowledge, but also to be able to share this powerful wellness technique with others. My favorite yoga class at present is Restorative Yoga for Stress Relief, which holds poses for 7-10 minutes using props to aid in tension release and avoids engaging muscles. The best part of the class is the restful stillness in my mind followed by the complete and utter relaxation in my body. Join me on Saturdays 9-10:30 in the Pescovitz Dance studio.
Drop in: $15 public /$12 JCC member.
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