By Josette Keelor
Area yoga instructors say springtime is a great time to break out of old routines.
With the weather warmer, taking yoga outdoors can help participants stretch the limits of their exercise programs.
Diane Woodall, of Broadway, said yoga is "beyond something you do in the gym."
"In the spring we're naturally wanting to be more active and be outdoors so it's a great time to get moving," she said.
But there are many different types of yoga, and Elizabeth Coberly, yoga instructor with Clarke County Parks and Recreation, said it's important to pick what's right for you.
Classes with the word "gentle" in it are great "for somebody who's a couch potato, for someone who's starting up a new program," she said. "And the idea is to get them into something where they just learn the poses and start to move."
Coberly said she prefers gentle yoga.
"I definitely think there is a place for the more vigorous routine, but it's not my style," she said. "I teach beginners."
Caroline Felix of Shine Yoga in Winchester teaches power yoga with 90 degree heat to help muscles stretch.
"The practice of yoga, it's just about feeling better," she said.
"It's important for people to determine what they expect from yoga and what they want to get out of it," she said.
Pay attention to the signals your body and brain give you, she said. In class, "most instructors focus on the breath and kind of quieting the mind and the body."
She said she enjoys the escape she finds in practicing yoga.
"You get to kind of make it what you want," she said.
Woodall agreed, "One thing that makes yoga different is it's not a competitive activity."
"There's a lot of emphasis placed on just doing what you're capable of doing," she said.
Felix recommends beginning with Child's Pose.
"It's kind of coming forward on your mat," she said.
From there, she said, Downward Dog "is just pressing up onto the hands and feet." It helps to release the lower back.
Coberly recommends beginners try a sun salutation, a collection of poses that form a warm-up routine.
But learn it the right way, she cautioned.
"I think it's important to take a class with a certification instructor to learn alignment," she said.
"Alignment is just really important in yoga," she said. "You want to make sure you're doing it correctly."
Felix said attending a class one day a week and then practicing at home two more days would be a good option for beginners.
"It's really ideal to practice three times a week to get the full benefits of yoga," she said.
Teaming with the Museum of the Shenandoah Valley, Felix will offer Yoga in the Gardens classes on four consecutive Wednesdays at 8:30 a.m. in May and June.
Each class is assigned a different part of the sprawling Glen Burnie Gardens to help participants learn different aspects of yoga.
Participants can search for balance in the Grand Allee on May 22, connect with living things in the Rose Garden on May 29, gain gratitude and perspective on the lawn of the Glen Burnie house on June 5 and receive restoration in the Water Garden on June 12. Locations are subject to change depending on weather and class size.
The classes will cater to all experience levels, Felix said.
"It really is about feeling good," she said. "Everybody can kind of connect to it."
Something as simple as stretching after gardening can help people incorporate yoga into their day, she said.
"It's just something that you always have with you wherever you are."
Yoga in the Gardens will take place at the Glen Burnie Gardens of the Museum of the Shenandoah Valley in Winchester, at 8:30 a.m. on four consecutive Wednesdays from May 22 to June 12. Participants should arrive at 8:15, bring a yoga mat and water bottle and wear comfortable clothes. For more information, call 662-1473 or visit themsv.org.
Contact Caroline Felix at Shine Yoga in Winchester, at 540-409-7568 or www.hotyogawinchester.com. Contact Diane Woodall, who teaches in the Harrisonburg area, at email@example.com or at www.agoodstretch.com. Contact Elizabeth Coberly through Clarke County Parks and Recreation at 540-955-5140 or visit www.clarkecounty.gov/parks/parks-and-recreation.
Contact Community Engagement Editor Josette Keelor at 540-465-5137, ext. 176, or firstname.lastname@example.org