Beginners’ yoga great for shaking off sluggishness

A beginner’s yoga class offers an opportunity to really stretch those muscles just waking up from hibernation.

  • Mar. 12, 2015 7:00 p.m.

Yoga can help get your muscles to wake up after a bit of a hibernation this winter.

The official start of spring is just over a week away and it’s the time of year for renewed movement and increased energy. As the weather grows warmer, so too does the urge to get up and get moving. A beginner’s yoga class offers an opportunity to really stretch those muscles just waking up from hibernation, as well as having a myriad of other benefits.

“It’s an extensive kind of stretching,” says Angela Turnbull, a fitness yoga instructor at Panorama Recreation Centre.

“Any stretches that people do, they usually only hold for 30 seconds after a workout.”

In her drop-in class, the stretches are held for much longer, giving the body the chance to really unwind, she says.

“We’re doing a lot of opening up through the hips. There’s a lot of twisting which encourages digestion, and opening up through the spine.”

All movement that can particularly benefit those who find themselves in front of a desk for most of their workdays.

And while the fitness yoga class may not follow a particular tradition of yoga, it still follows many of the core practices, such as mindfulness and deep breathing.

“It’s setting a tone for mindfulness as well,” says Turnbull. “You have to breathe. Especially when people are in a sedentary lifestyle, they tend to breathe shallowly. I always get them to start with a nice deep breath.”

“It’s also about having that hour to themselves. Just to focus on themselves, and how they’re breathing, how they’re moving. To spend some time grounding into that moment.”

Above all, if you’re just getting back into an active lifestyle – whether it’s yoga, lifting weights, or getting out for a jog — remember to be gentle with yourself, she says.

“Everyone comes from a different physical background. Go at your own pace, and know what level you’re at. If you’re just starting out, know that you might only be able to do 10 or 20 minutes, and that’s OK. You want to start with the basics and go on from there.”

Turnbull’s drop-in fitness yoga class was borne out of her desire to incorporate deeper stretching into her own routine, and because it’s a “general yoga” class, it’s ideal for anyone who’s interested, but might not know which branch of yoga practice they’re most attracted to.

“As a beginner, they can come try this out, and then they’re going to be able to decide where they want to move to, whether that’s Vinyasa or Iyengar, or something else. It’s a platform to go onto deeper and more spiritual practices.”

Turnbull is a registered personal trainer and fitness program assistant at Panorama Recreation Centre and teaches her drop-in class Thursday nights, 5 p.m., at Greenglade Community Centre. For details, visit panoramarecreation.ca.

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