News: Yoga, learning to revitalize your mind, body, breath
Story by Lance Cpl. James Smith
IWAKUNI, Japan - For those who thought yoga was all about bending and twisting one’s body in odd shapes, maybe it's time to rethink.
“Yoga is a life science that integrates breath, body and spirit,” said Yvonne Whittle, IronWorks yoga instructor. “You incorporate all three of those aspects of a human being to bring about relaxation and benefit for the entire system.”
Hindus and Buddhists have practiced the mental and physical disciplines of yoga for millennia as a way to find inner peace and harmony. During the past few decades, those disciplines increased in popularity.
In yoga, participants practice several different asana, or yoga positions, breathing techniques known as pranayamas and the constant focus of meditation.
Along with the different asanas comes different types of yoga, all ranging in difficulty. Ashtanga, or power yoga, is among the lines of a more difficult style, while meditation yoga is a more relaxing type.
Since some have never done yoga before, instructors don't expect students to go straight to the hardest asana.
"Certain types of yoga require you be in a particular position," said Whittle. "In meditation yoga and other yogas, every person is an individual. Naturally, our comfort positions are going to be different."
Whittle explained that yoga isn't meant to be a competition and the only way to get better is through daily practice, as it takes time for a person’s body to become accustomed.
Through the practice of yoga and meditation, people are able to reap the numerous benefits. According to artofliving.org, some of the top benefits include stress relief, weight loss, and all-around fitness, while at the same time, there is one thing that every person should strive for:
"Yoga should be able to produce a deep sense of relaxation," said Whittle. "I see all of our service members and their families dealing with the difficulties of constant re-locations and deployments, so we are all filled with stress and we really don't understand what deep relaxation is."
For Prakai Parsons, IronWorks Gym yoga instructor, her experience in yoga was more than a relaxation technique, but became a healing process for her.
"Ever since I was 19, I had the worst migraine that nothing would seem to cure," said Parsons. "I took medications, ran and swam a lot and even took numerous gym classes to try and remedy the migraine. It wasn't until a yoga instructor in Iwakuni convinced me to take yoga. I was hurting for the first couple of days, but eventually, I became more proficient and soon, the migraine began to fade away."
Parsons said she remembered a man from one of her yoga schools who couldn't move half of his body. By practicing yoga and breathing techniques, he was slowly able to regain movement of his entire body.
As Picasso once said, “I am always doing that which I cannot do, in order that I may learn how to do it.”
Whether it’s stress from work or pain in the joints, yoga may be beneficial. There are several classes offered on base for those who want to try something new.