Yoga brings relaxation to Rec Center

Written by Muleskinner Staff

Story by KRISTIN GALLAGHER, Business Manager—
Their heads are down, eyes closed and hands stretched wide open at their sides.
Their bodies sway slightly with each deep breath they take in and exhale.
Their feet remain firmly planted to their mats as the women raise their arms over their heads on the instructor’s count.
They bring their hands together in front of them, take a deep breath and begin the process again.
“Yoga is about getting people to think about our connections, our actions and our consequences,” said Suzy Latare, yoga enthusiast and instructor. “I want people to walk away feeling refreshed and relaxed, and feel a sense of connection to the people around them and the planet as a whole.”
Latare, 45, led the yoga class that was initially supposed to take place last Friday afternoon on President Chuck Ambrose’s lawn as part of Earth Day 365, a weeklong celebration of Earth Day.
Instead, the event took place in the Student Recreation and Wellness Center due to inclement weather.
“I was a little disappointed it couldn’t happen outside,” Latare said. “But with all the big windows in this room it is kind of like we are out in nature without really being outside.”
After removing their shoes, the nine women in attendance roll out their mats in the middle of the floor, filling the room with bright blues, purples and pinks.
The class begins as Latare introduces herself and asks everyone to give their names and how long they have been doing yoga.
Some have been practicing for 15 years, and others have only tried it one other time in their lives.
“Anybody can do yoga,” said Renee Staab, a 15-year yoga veteran in attendance. “You can modify it to suit you and your body. “
Soft music floats throughout the room as Latare leads the women in their warm-up stretches.
She emphasizes the feeling of their feet meeting the ground, and the flow of their breath as it leaves their body.
“I really want to emphasize the focus on breathing,” Latare said. “As simple as it sounds, it’s really a great practice, and a lot of people don’t use their full breath.”
Latare challenges the women to let go of their sense of judgment and competition as they exhale each time.
“Let go of the competition with yourself,” she says softly. “Let go of all of your expectations.”
The class advances with a variety of poses, from the standing mountain pose, to lunging sun salutations, to the fetal child’s pose.
“I love being able to just stretch,” said Valery Johnson, a 56-year-old career service development coordinator. “I get to be non-competitive with myself and others. Yoga is a great opportunity to contemplate on the moment and a power greater than yourself.”
Light, airy tones play from the speakers above the women as they stretch their arms.
“Inhale. Left foot back. Exhale and sweep your arms up,” Latare coos.
There is no sweat or strain on the women’s faces as they move from one position to the next.
Their faces are calm and relaxed as they focus on the health of not only their body, but also their mind.
“I get to get away from the intensity of life,” said participant Pearl Miller, 67. “I get to listen to my body and what my body needs.”
As the 45-minute class comes to an end, the women lay flat on their mats and let all of their muscles relax.
They close their eyes as they listen to Latare ease them into total relaxation.
“Notice how your body feels different than the beginning of the class,” she says as she draws the shades closed around the room. “Give every muscle the permission to let go.”
Latare said the practice of yoga is always ongoing, no matter how long someone has been doing it.
“It’s not about getting really good at one thing,” she said. “You always feel different each time. You have to be patient with the process.”
Latare instructs the women to come out of relaxation and sit up on their mats.
She places her hands together at her heart and smiles.
“I acknowledge and appreciate every single one of you,” she says. “Namaste.”