By Adrienne Smith, yoga instructor and studio manager of CorePower Yoga – Oak Park/River Forest
With the start of a new year, a lot of people try to make healthy changes. No matter what your fitness routine, whether you’re a couch potato or a super-athlete, yoga is a great way to make positive changes to not only your physical health but your mental and emotional health as well.
Yoga allows you to breathe and move—there’s no competition, no winner or loser. Instead, you focus on your own wellness. You’ll find that you’re nicer to people when you do yoga. It sounds silly but it’s true—when you feel more peaceful, you act more peacefully. You never hear someone say, “Oh, I just had the worst yoga class ever!” Regardless of how you feel that day, you’re always going to walk out of a yoga session feeling better than you did when you walked in.
At CorePower, we try to offer as many options as possible to help people who want to incorporate yoga into their lives. Our classes include heated and non-heated yoga, classes that are more relaxing and classes that are more rigorous. Kids as young as 12 are welcome to attend any non-heated yoga class with a parent, and family yoga is available as well. If cost is an issue, students may volunteer their time in exchange for unlimited free yoga classes as part of our Yoga for Trade program. We want to make yoga accessible to everyone.
If you’re thinking about trying yoga, here are a few tips:
Check your ego at the door. Come in prepared to just breathe, and do whatever you’re capable of that day. Even if you don’t move at all and just sit on your mat, you’ll get something out of it. It’s breath with movement. Maybe in your next class, you move a little bit more. We have props to help students advance their practice as well. Just keep showing up and you’ll see progress.
Start with a foundational, beginners class. Most studios (including CorePower) offer classes designed for new students, in which you work on basics of each posture. The pace of the class allows you to learn how your body feels in each posture. Also, the instructor can offer additional guidance as needed. At CorePower, our instructors provide hands-on assists and adjustments, so if you want the extra one-on-one attention, it’s always available.
Explore various types of yoga. Everyone has their own reasons for practicing yoga, so each class has an opportunity to give you what you are looking for. For example, our CorePower 1 class is non-heated and focuses on the foundational elements of power yoga. Our CorePower 2 classes are written by our instructors and provide unique opportunities to explore and deepen your practice. If you want detoxification, try our Hot Power Fusion class. A class that helps balance your fitness regimes with yin/restorative yoga, come to our CoreRestore class. Finally, if you want a high intensity, interval training class, Yoga Sculpt is for you.
Go beyond your comfort zone. At CorePower, we talk a lot about the “edge.” This is the place where you come in contact with the threshold of your comfort zone. It’s all about personal growth, not how you’re performing against someone else. We encourage students to push themselves a little further than they’re accustomed to. Now when we say push, we’re not talking about pushing until you feel pain—it’s about finding out what you really can do. And it doesn’t only mean stretching further or holding a posture longer: Many students measure their progress by how well they’re able to relax and be present in their yoga practice.
Take advantage of discounts. If you’re motivated by a good deal, use that to get yourself into the studio! Every new student at CorePower gets a free week, in which they can take as many classes as they like at any of our 130 studios across the country. If you decide that you want a second week, you can buy a $9 yoga mat and get a second week free too. We also offer discounts for physicians, nurses, students, teachers, seniors over 55, police officers, and firefighters, as well as first responders. This is a great opportunity to try different classes and instructors and see which is best for you.
Since we’ve moved to Oak Park, we’ve been truly grateful for all the feedback we’ve received from this community. That’s why we’re partnering with other wellness-related businesses in the area to benefit all of our clients. For example, clients of Orangetheory Oak Park and O’Hare CrossFit can get reciprocal free classes monthly so they can complement their fitness routines. We also have a Black Tag Business Partner Program, where we partner with other local businesses and provide our students with unique discounts. Some of our partners include Muse Boutique, Red Hen Bread, The Juice Joint, Gem Jewelry, and Sugar Beet Co-Op.
If you’re starting a fitness routine or looking to change one up, yoga is a great option. Not only will you improve your physical health, but you’ll improve other areas of your life: When you know you’re headed to yoga later, you’ll be more inclined to make better decisions throughout your day; if you took a class in the morning, it’s easier to keep moving more during the rest of your day. Better decisions just happen, and you’ll be better able to find gratitude, happiness, and love.
Photos courtesy of Adrienne Smith