Friday, March 28, 2008


By Courtney Westlake

The calming, soothing music plays while a soft voice instructs participants to breathe and stretch, focusing on specific muscle groups and positions.

While yoga may seem like it might put you to sleep, it is a great workout for the different muscle groups in your body. Yoga, which originated in India, is now considered a form of exercise and deals with various postures and poses to increase balance and flexibility and decrease stress and tension in the body.

The TRAC offers a class called Yoga for Relaxation. It is led by an instructor and offered on Thursdays from 9 to 10 p.m. and Fridays from 5:10 to 6:10 p.m.

"Yoga releases stress; that's why the general population usually participates in a yoga class," said Amanda Jillson, assistant director of fitness and instructional programs at the TRAC. "Yoga helps channel energy to help strengthen and lengthen your body. It's kind of a stretching class, but there is a lot of controlled breathing when you are holding different poses."

Performing yoga regularly has a lot of benefits for both your physical health and mental health, Jillson said.

"It does help with muscle tone, it decreases stress and it helps to balance your body because some of the poses are difficult, and they take a lot of focus and concentration to hold the pose for 10,20 30 seconds," Jillson said. "There is a lot of control and focus with holding and releasing your breath."

While breathing and stretching are major aspects of yoga, the exercise also works all different kinds of muscle groups.

"You're working your core a lot, which is your abdominals and your lower back muscles," Jillson said. "But some of the poses, when you're holding them, your muscles in your legs being contracted, and you're reaching through your fingertips. So that way, you're using all your energy to hold that pose, so all of the muscles in your body are being worked."