Joe Schmitt writes a weekly blog called The Good Life, featuring information about the region’s history, culture, climate and economy. The blog also showcases new residents, clubs and organizations, outdoor recreational opportunities and local events.
All around the country, yoga has been growing in popularity, and Yakima County is no exception. In the last couple of years several studios have popped up and local gyms have begun adding classes.
With a diversity of available classes you can find something to suit just about everyone. You can take a class that will have your inner circus acrobat grinning with an aerial yoga class, or feel as though you’re at a tropical beach with hot yoga. Whether you want to stick to the basics or audition for Cirque du Soleil, Yakima has got you covered.
“Yoga can be a great cross training element for a variety of other activities such as running, rock climbing, cycling, etc,” said local instructor Melina Stasiuk, who has been practicing yoga for over 15 years, works as a physical therapy aid and is in the process of racking up over 700 hours in training with the Pacific Teacher Training in Seattle.
“It seems that yoga has been “westernized” and the focus being on a workout versus a more traditional practice. This suits the faster paced mind set and still has its benefits,” said Stasiuk who started out with Ashtanga yoga as it was vigorous and fast paced but has since adjusted her practice to better fit with how she is feeling day to day, with an emphasis on breathing and alignment.
Stasiuk says that yoga is for everyone; from students who are extremely athletic to those who have had knee/hip replacements, students with multiple sclerosis, elderly, folks with anxiety issues, and pre and post natal, and even children.
“The student has a responsibility to listen to what their bodies are saying and if something doesn’t feel good, don’t do it! If a student is new, go to a beginner or gentle class so one can start to learn the basics. Find a teacher that you are comfortable with, ask questions, come with an open mind, and do not be shy to say if something does not feel right,” said Stasiuk who is a huge advocate for communication for first timers.
The health benefits of practicing yoga are numerous and include improved flexibility, stability, and a sense of calm. A long term practice can lead to more awareness of body, space, and the ability to quiet the noise of our fast paced lives.
“Check the ego at the door, to accept that yoga is a “practice”,” said Melina. “I always kid that I am the least flexible yoga instructor on the planet. It’s how I’m put together, I have injuries and it’s ok. I stopped beating myself up over that and my practice improved ten-fold.”
Still not sure if yoga is for you? Yoga Collective of Yakima is made up of yoga teachers and practitioners with a vision of providing free yoga and other mind/body/spirit classes to the community and offers great introductory courses.
And, for those of you weary to hit the mats, it’s also fashionably acceptable to just dress like you’re a practiced yogi (well, I guess that might depend on who you ask).