Yoga, there for the tasting

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By Joan Irene Krohn

Sun salutations, yoga for fitness, yoga flow: what’s it all about?

The ancient practice of yoga came to America about 40  years ago from India but now is “mainstream” in America according to Henrietta Griego, a certified and registered yoga teacher. It offers people these basic benefits: balance, strength, flexibility along with focusing attention and calming the mind.

Griego is convinced that our community of has gone through so much that the energizing and yet relaxing benefits of yoga practice will help us all. And the community benefits when we are happier and feeling a calmed mind. Yoga practice is an “exercise” with stretches and poses and range-of-motion development. But it’s more.  It’s also an eastern philosophy that helps one find the true self: ones own center. Perhaps we can call it soul.

Fundamentals of Complementary and Integrative Medicine (third edition), a medical school text, states “Clinical studies have shown that yoga is effective therapy for several chronic conditions.” High blood pressure and heart disease are two of these conditions.

Ted Winston, also a yoga teacher, says that a lot of people are referred to yoga by health care professionals: doctors, nurses, physical therapists and others. He himself got into yoga after sustaining injuries from his personal fitness activities of running and swimming. Now, he practices yoga and feels that the benefits go beyond the usual fitness ideas of strength and flexibility. The benefits are emotional and spiritual too.

Winston believes that people with diabetes, addictions, Parkinsons and other physical problems need yoga. Some people have asserted that addictions to alcohol and drugs can be helped with yoga practice.

Yoga is still a strange idea to some people. In fact, people have had the idea that it is “another religion.” This comes from the fact that meditation and becoming aware of the flow of thoughts is a practice of yoga too. But there is no deity or doctrine in yoga. The goal is self awareness, strength and flexibility.

And as Henrietta Griego said, “It makes people happier and happier people make a better community for us all.”

Winston emphasizes that unlike most American exercise, yoga is non-competitive.  People work at their own rate and ability. They improve with time and with a sense of commitment and discipline.  But none of the five teachers who are presenting “A Taste of Yoga in Las Vegas” look for perfection. In fact, it’s a mistake to think that you are too fat, or too old, or too “out-of-shape” to begin yoga. That’s why the five yoga teachers made an alliance and then decided to reach out to the community with their presentation.

The five teachers are Tim Sanchez, who will present “Yoga for fitness,”  Linda Halouzka who will present “Partner yoga” and” Yoga for children,” Henrietta Griego and Ted Winston who will present “Yoga flow,” and lastly, Nicholas Vandiver who will present “Pranayama breathing.”

All five teachers will begin “A Taste of Yoga in Las Vegas” with a group exercise called Sun Salutations. Linda Halouska said this beginning will demonstrate all of the teachers have different “styles.” Each teacher has developed her/his best practice and a personal, unique way to teach and to practice yoga.

The benefit to participants of seeing and experiencing Sun Salutations is the reality of the uniqueness of each teacher. Also, seeing that the forms of the postures and the rhythms of movements may be somewhat different for each teacher.

Halouzka said that yoga practice helps people become disciplined and focused. This is particularly helpful for children. She practices a particular yoga variation called Sensory Motor Integration and Learning (Smile) that was developed by an Occupational Therapist /Yoga Teacher for children. The children are led through singing about animals into animal movements that become yoga movements and yoga postures. It’s also based on story telling (stories are usually about animals) with the singing and movements following the story line.

Halouzka said the children love these exercises and come away from the experience happy, focused, and able to concentrate. The children’s primary teacher finds this a good experience for their classroom. The children are now ready for new lessons.  Because the children are open and aware, the can concentrate on the new material to be learned.

Halouzka said that yoga is a form of internal and external exercise for renewal and relaxation. From pre-school children and up to 4th grade, children love to do the movements and the breathing exercises. It was about 15 years ago that Halouzka got questions from parents that indicated that they were afraid of yoga as a foreign or evil practice.

But like Griego, she says yoga has become mainstream and most parents welcome the practice that helps their children learn and also relax and have fun.

So, Las Vegans, if you have never “tasted” yoga, this is for you.

Saturday, Nov. 15 at the Riverwalk Movement Arts Studio, 1214 National Ave. Sun salutations (all teachers) begin at 9 a.m. and ends at 9:45 a.m. Yoga for Fitness (Tim Sanchez) begins at 10 a.m. and ends at 10:45 a.m.  Partner Yoga (Linda Halouzka) starts at 11 a.m. and ends at 11:45 a.m. Yoga for Children (Linda Halouzka) begins at noon and ends at 12:45 p.m.  Yoga Flow (Henrietta Griego and Ted Winston) begins at 1 p.m. and ends at 1:45 p.m.  Pranayama Breathing (Nicholas Vandiver) begins at 2 p.m. and ends at 2:45 p.m.

Donations will be accepted and will benefit our local soup kitchen. It is quite usual for yoga teachers to ask for donations rather than charge fees.  It’s part of the philosophy of yoga. Donations that benefit a community service like the soup kitchen is part of the spiritual and philosophical practice.

Of course, there are situations in which teachers must charge set fees.

Riverwalk Movement Arts Studio at 1214 National Ave. is a recently renovated building devoted to healing arts. The building has a large open space for pilates and yoga classes. Other health care practitioners of what is frequently called “complementary and integrative medicine” are located in the building.

So this is your chance. Get a taste of yoga by five of Las Vegas’ best and most experienced yoga teachers. For more information, call Henrietta Griego at 454-0966.