More MS news articles for Dec 2001

Getting serious about yoga

New demand for yoga classes is stretching local resources{183574CF-73BF-4D40-B829-4900E350E102}

Thursday, December 27, 2001
Marta Gold, Journal Staff Writer
Edmonton Journal

When Chris Erdmann-Boyko first got seriously into yoga more than a decade ago, people looked at her a little strangely. "I think they associated it with levitating or something," she says with a laugh.

Now, she and her partner run a studio devoted almost exclusively to yoga, an exercise that's enjoying huge popularity locally and across the continent.

"People are beginning to recognize that it works well with anything you do. Any kind of sport, the yoga compliments," says Erdmann-Boyko, who runs Yoga For Today in Sherwood Park.

A growing list of celebrities are singing yoga's praises and adding to its cachet -- people so famous, they only have one name. Oprah, Rosie, Sting, Madonna.

Classes are now offered at most local fitness clubs, and their popularity shows no sign of fading.

"They can hardly keep up with the demand," says Debbie Spence, executive director of the Yoga Association of Alberta. "I get people calling here from different fitness centres saying they're desperate for a teacher."

The association estimates there are about 300 certified yoga teachers in the province, about 60 or 70 of them in Edmonton. They also estimate each of those instructors has at least 140 students a year, which would mean about 42,000 people in the province are practising yoga.

Paid membership in the association has grown almost fivefold in the past decade, from about 300 to 1,400, says Spence.

Fitness professionals say the demand for classes that work the mind as well as the body is definitely on the rise. "Mind-body is huge," says Brigitte Cormier, general manager at Sports Connection. The club's yoga class is its most popular, and members have demanded another class be added in the new year.

Cormier says non-aerobic, relaxation classes like Pilates, yoga and deep stretching are the hottest choices for fitness buffs these days. "We're finding as our members age they're really looking for the less intense, less high-impact classes. They're finding that they now have limitations with what they can do. I'm also finding a lot of our members are discovering injuries and this is great for them for rehab."

Yoga classes are attracting a whole new group of clients to the Kinsmen Sports Centre, says program coodinator Dot Laing. She's noticed the growing popularity of yoga over the past few years, and thinks it's here to stay. Unlike some exercises, yoga is good for a wide range of people at all fitness levels, and can be as gentle or difficult as participants want, she says.

While traditional yoga doesn't offer much of a cardiovascular workout, it's a great compliment for toning and increasing flexibility, she adds.

It also offers relief to many people with chornic ailments like back pain, headaches and even multiple sclerosis, says Spence of the yoga association. The local Multiple Sclerosis Society offers a yoga class for MS sufferers.

Many people become involved in meditation after trying yoga, she adds. "Everybody's looking for something to help control the mind, because the mind is like a racing horse."

Yoga is also becoming more popular among men, who now make up about 10 per cent of the association's membership. While that doesn't sound like a lot, it's a significant increase over past years, she says.


Here's a quick guide to some of the yoga classes available:

- Hatha yoga -- traditional yoga that incorporates physical poses or asanas, breathing exercises and relaxation techniques

- Astanga or power yoga -- continuous movement and breathing, much more cardiovascular, continuous flow of postures

- Kripalu yoga -- much like Hatha yoga, helps with strength and flexibility, moves away from pushing or forcing; teaches self-awareness and compassion for body, encourages self-acceptance

- Family yoga -- for parents and kids

- Moms and babies yoga

- Pre- and post-natal yoga

- Yoga therapy -- done at a slower pace, explore body's inate power to heal

- Hot yoga -- done in a super-hot room; through heat, muscles become more limber, more flexible so participants get a deeper stretch

- 55-plus yoga

- Yoga for teens

Looking for a quick and motivating jumpstart to the new year? Yoga For Today offers an intensive, 12-day, weight-regulating yoga package running January 2 to 14. Participants take a 90-minute yoga class each day for 12 days straight to help start 2002 off right.


© Copyright 2001 Edmonton Journal