”A year after ending my running routine and gaining 50 pounds I decided to take yoga as a means to getting into shape so I could start running again. I thought the stretching would be good, but I never considered yoga in itself as a way to gain and maintain fitness, strength, and well-being. At the time I started going to Angela Barrese’s classes I had no real idea of the benefits of developing a practice.
Before I gave yoga a try my mind was closed and I had some misconceived notions about yoga. Real men don’t do yoga. Yoga won’t provide a tough workout. Yoga is totally touchy-feely.
I was wrong.
Power vinyasa yoga provides a holistic workout of strengthening, balance, stretching, coordination, aerobic conditioning, and mental focus. I feel and see the tangible benefits from working the whole body together and not just isolating muscle groups. (When was the last time you did something using just one set of muscles?) I played rugby at college, and I worked out long and hard. Had I practiced yoga then, I would have been stronger, quicker, faster, and more flexible.
Angela’s dynamic teaching style makes yoga easy to enjoy and have fun. She is more than just an exercise leader. She has shown me the tools to find within myself the ability to discover my own path towards physical and mental fitness. She pushes me when I need to be pushed. She knows when to let me struggle with where I am. Although I know she is working with the entire class, it sometimes seems to me that she is talking directly to me.
Angela has the rare ability to teach to students at different levels in the same class. When I started yoga I had no idea about positions, breathing, mental focus, body alignment, nomenclature, or the many other elements that comprise practice. My first class had beginner, more advanced students, and fish-out-of-water me. She made me feel that the confusion and embarrassment I was experiencing was temporary. During every phase of the class Angela explained what we were doing and how to do it at the appropriate experience or fitness level. My interest in yoga was nurtured because Angela showed and told me how to participate more fully at my level of experience in the program she was directing.
The beauty of Angela’s classes is that no two classes are the same. The routine of move sequences varies. Some days I have more energy and can do more than other days. On those days when my body can’t perform as I’d I like, class is probably more beneficial to me because I am in a learning environment that allows me to find a way to get into the groove and finish the task set before me.
The benefits of a yoga practice are numerous. I am attaining the physical goals of greater fitness and weight loss I have set for myself. Through intense focused awareness required of “meditation in motion” and mind-over-body stretching sequences I am developing the ability to quiet my mind. My energy levels are higher than ever before. I have learned to be conscious of my body not only when I am practicing yoga but also when I am doing routine tasks that once put my body out of alignment or caused me stress. I crave the endorphin rush I get from my body and mind being tested, pushed, and taken to its limits. As a bonus, now I am able to run more efficiently than I had before yoga.”