"Where are you going?" I hear someone ask in the corridor.
"For my cardio workout," comes the reply.
The door opens and in walks another participant who quietly slips off her shoes and socks and sits down comfortably on a mat. This is not an aerobics class. This is a yoga class. Where, instead of a heart pumping, sweat inducing workout, we work on heart centering and achieving serenity. Our "cardio workout" involves a heart opening experience, not a heart pounding one.
Yoga has absolutely taken its place in the mainstream. It has been available in community centers, yoga studios and even fitness centers for a long while, but now it is exploding into the corporate world. Employees and employers alike are realizing the ease of yoga and its benefits. No leg behind the head poses here, just energy enhancing and stress relieving ones, combined with simple breathing techniques.
To begin this office based class, we are situated in a weight room where the fitness equipment remains idle during our time of inner reflection. Other days we practice in a conference room with the tables and chairs moved off to the sides of the room. The class comprises of students, both male and female, of varying ages, sizes and fitness abilities sitting comfortably on a mat. The lights are low and the music heard in the background is reminiscent of birds and babbling brooks. We begin with the breathing component which moves us gently into a state of inner peace before we progress into our asanas or postures. With our breath we combat the stress and fatigue of the day and clear our thoughts of anything other than the present moment. The asanas bring with them the ability to let go of the pressures of the work day and prepare for those yet to come. Tension is released and in its place comes the knowledge and the ability of coping with not only work, but life itself.
Yoga means "union" and synchronizes the harmony of one's mind, body, and spirit with the breath. As we combine our breath and postures, we are able to reflect inwardly and become more flexible not only in our body, but in our mind, as well. Circulation is improved, blood pressure becomes regulated, performance is enhanced and ailments subside. Such are the benefits of yoga.
The physical part of our yoga session over, I extinguish the lights in the room and reset the music.
I hear a participant enthusiastically whisper, "This is the best part."
"Yah," says another. "I can do this one with my eyes closed."
Everyone laughs, including me as we enter our time for total relaxation. Now is when our body acknowledges and assimilates all that we have done since we entered this room. Everyone lays in Savasana, the "Corpse Pose," flat on their back allowing any residual tension to be released from their body. Those that need to, bend their knees to rest their feet on the floor. As each person focuses on their breath and relaxation, I help them by softly telling them which areas to relax as they allow a serene tranquillity to replace any tension. At the end, I give them a moment to float freely in this ocean of peace as the music continues to play softly.
Our class is now over. Forty five minutes have come and gone. A brief stretch brings everyone's attention back to the room. Those who arrived burdened and anxious, leave relaxed and revitalized. Those who were tired and stressed leave energized. Most students stay for a moment to pass by me and tell me how much this was needed in their day and how they look forward to our next class. I look forward to it, too. But, for now, I'm off to another office for another "cardio workout!"
By Sheri Kauhausen
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