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It’s an early Friday morning, my day off, and I’m exhausted from one of those didn’t sleep so well sort of nights. I’m cranking the air conditioning on, and turning the radio volume up to its highest level so I simply stay on the road and make it to my destination awake. I’m headed to the Kroc Center, my beloved place of work, because I booked a meeting, which will be followed by two fitness classes. What was I thinking?
Any other Friday off, this sort of early morning schedule, soaked in productivity, would have thrilled me yet the sleep I missed out on last night continues to tap me on the shoulder; reminding me how very groggy I am.
I meet with Kroc Fitness Instructor, Mary, for a Yoga marketing campaign interview. And then we both make our way to her morning Yoga class.
As I lay down my yoga mat in the Group Fitness Room, I notice the refreshing variety of students entering the room and laying down their mats down beside me: men, women, young, old, newcomers and regulars.
Mary kindly moves throughout the room, greeting her regulars and meeting new faces while passing out blocks and ropes to help enhance certain stretches.
Mary then lands on her own mat, at the top center of the classroom and begins with a calm and friendly hello. As we lie on our backs she instructs us in how to properly manage our breath.
I hear many of the students around me quickly finding their ‘Ujjayi’ breath. The ‘Ujjayi’ breath is often also referred to as the “ocean breath” in Yoga because it elicits a wave-like sound. Mary walks us through the technique; inhale and exhale through the nose while constricting the back of the throat so that one can control deeper and longer breaths. It’s benefit? ‘Ocean breathing’ increases the body’s internal heat and allows for better oxygenation—especially helpful for once we get moving.
“I think breathing is a big part of yoga,” Mary shared when asked what her favorite yoga lifestyle tip is. “Using a deep breath can help with stress and reduce anxiety.”
As the class continues, Mary incorporates specific neck postures and stretches per the request of one of her students. Mary always begins her class by asking, “Anyone need to work on anything?” A thoughtful way that she can offer her yogi knowledge to the potential injuries or pains some of her students may be carrying.
As we let out deep, strong breathes in unison, I find any sort of anxious thought and residual sleepiness slowly melt away. I am strangely and suddenly hit with zaps of energy, perhaps beaming off the very students surrounding me or maybe this is the whole point of yoga, after all.