Yoga: A Healthy Lifestyle

Yoga instructor Rhonda Coward helps her class at the Blythewood Recreation Center achieve a healthier lifestyle.

Yoga instructor Rhonda Coward helps her class at the Blythewood Recreation Center achieve a healthier lifestyle.

BLYTHEWOOD (July 29, 2016) – About 5:45 every Wednesday evening, several women and sometimes a man or two in the 40-60 age range begin arriving at the Blythewood Recreation Center with rolled up floor mats tucked under their arms and wearing yoga pants or something similar. As they step into the dim, quiet, candle-lit room, they unroll their mats and assume a comfortable sitting position on the floor. They are facing a woman in one corner of the room who is sitting cross-legged on her own mat. It is their yoga instructor, Rhonda Coward.

Coward and her students quietly socialize until the class begins. And then it’s all work. If relaxing could be called work.

Whether we take classes or not, and no matter our ages, yoga has made itself known in all of our lives. From the mats we see toted around by yoga students heading to class, to the rows and rows of yoga pants in clothing stores, even those of us who have never taken a class, yoga has ambled into our lives and settled itself comfortably on the edge of our peripheral.

Cowan, who has taught yoga at the Rec Center for almost four years, says it’s a great way to de-stress and maintain a healthy lifestyle.

“Many of my students comment on both the relaxation they feel and how much better they sleep after taking a class,” Coward said. “Besides being a wonderful stress reliever, yoga also has the added health benefits of improving flexibility and helping people develop a better sense of body awareness.

“Our bodies tend to lose flexibility as we get older and spend more time sitting at a desk than we do moving around. And with the demands of work and home, it becomes very easy to let our health routines slip, sacrificing exercise and balanced meals in favor of fast and easy snack foods in front of a television,” Coward said. “Taking a yoga class is an easy and very accomplishable way of making sure that we pay attention to our body and its needs.”

Coward said an added and unexpected benefit of yoga class is the social connection it creates with others who live in the community and who share a desire for a healthier lifestyle.

“Whenever there’s a new face in class, we always make sure to do a round of introductions and make the newcomer feel welcome,” Cowan added. “My goal is to reach out to everyone and make them feel welcome and accepted in our class.”

Cowan said that because of the relative ease and flow of the movements, yoga is a much easier form of exercise than running or jogging.

“While running and jogging are beneficial exercises, they can be very jarring for the human body,” she said. “I strongly recommend yoga for older women and men who may find the usual forms of exercise too difficult, but would still like to maintain exercise as part of their daily life.”

Cowan said her classes at the Rec Center usually have a very slow, easy pace.

“For those who have never participated in yoga, they find it is incredibly beginner-friendly,” she said.

Cowan recommends light, slightly loose fitting clothing that is easy to move in.

“I always have equipment such as mats and blankets available for use by those who just want to see if yoga is something they are really interested in before investing in appropriate clothing and a mat.”

When asked what she likes most about teaching yoga, Coward immediately responds, “I like what the students teach me. Teaching yoga helps me stay patient and humble,” she said.

“When my students tell me how much the classes have helped them, for me, that’s a gift.” Coward said. “I think yoga brings everything together – the spiritual, the mental and the physical.”

The Wednesday evening classes begin at 6 p.m. and cost $10 per class or $35 per month payable to the Blythewood Recreation Center. The Center is located at 126 Boney Road. For information or to register for classes, call 960-0677.

 

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