ALLIE DOUGLASS | The Sun
Suzi Renaud keeps her concentration as she holds an arrow pose on Sept. 24 at her studio, The Yoga Room. The practice of yoga has been cited in alleviating many physical and mental health problems.
ALLIE DOUGLASS | The Sun
Suzi Renaud works on her balance with a tree pose on Sept., 24 at her studio, The Yoga Room. Balance is just one of the many physical and mental health problems that the practice of yoga can help alleviate.
Any yoga enthusiast can tell you balance is the key whether that revolves around a certain pose or life itself, so when daily anxiety becomes too much to handle, teachers encourage restoring mindful balance through yoga’s calming practice.
Viewed as more than a simple fad by many in the health community, yoga’s time-tested routines of conditioning the mind and body provides not only basic exercise, but an effective way to help people regain mental control in the stressful daily grind.
According to a 2011 study published by the Mayo Clinic, at the conclusion of a six-week yoga-based wellness program, participants made measured improvements in body weight, lowered blood pressure, flexibility, body-fat percentage and many responded that they felt an overall better quality of life.
Eric Romanak, body and wellness coach with Seva Fitness, said today’s culture has people hard-wired for a quick fix when it comes to their problems. People often resort to pharmaceutical coping mechanisms instead of putting in the time to practice yoga and reap the benefits that come naturally.
Romanak said the body’s natural reaction to stress is a slouching pose with the head tilted downward, physically similar to the posture many people replicate daily while sitting at their office computer. Yoga seeks to neutralize that position and free up the joints.
“People think yoga poses are very old, but the truth of the matter is many aren’t that old at all,” Romanak said. “Many were created for westerners to combat problems like this. Yoga’s No. 1 benefit right now is helping combat the sitting culture we currently live in because we’re not designed to sit in chairs all day.”
Tim Whitaker, owner of True North Yoga, said yoga provides stress-busting benefits from three different facets: physical activity, breath control and guided relaxation. Physical activity alone helps relieve anxiety, but yoga’s focus on deep, even breathing and relaxing poses helps break the underlying fight-or-flight notion driven by stress.
“Yoga is unique on working with balance both on and off the mat,” Whitaker said. “Learning to keep your calm, poise and equanimity while standing on one foot in the tree pose easily translates into keeping your balance in other stressful situations.”
The appeal of yoga to many people lies in the ease with which any age can begin the practice, Whitaker said. People can enroll in classes to suit their fitness or energy levels, from power programs for athletes to low-impact classes for older participants.
Suzi Renaud, owner of the Yoga Room, said not only has yoga been proven as a stress reliever, but also acknowledged the benefits yoga provides as simple physical activity for people often limited in their movement like elderly people or someone recovering from an ailment.
Renaud encouraged people to look into yoga and debunked the preconceived notions people tend to have about showing up to a yoga class.
“Put on blinders and walk in,” Renaud said. “Honor yourself in that way and know that everyone else is in there for the same reason and you will find people in a yoga class are the most supportive.”
Contact Will Pinkston, a Paducah Sun staff writer, at 270-575-8676 or follow @WCPinkston on Twitter.