Yoga Life Center presents different world

Thursday, November 15, 2001

By Joy Blackburn

Special to Business Today

POPLAR BLUFF -- When you walk through the door at the Yoga Life Center, you step into a different world.

Soothing aromas drift through the air. The colors are calming and the lighting soft. Candles flicker gently. New age music plays faintly in the background. And slowly, the hustle and bustle of everyday life begins to fade away.

"It (yoga) is excellent for stress reduction," said Mindy Matthews, owner and instructor at the Yoga Life Center at 705 N. 9th St..

Matthews has been a licensed physical therapist for 17 years. She opened the Yoga Life Center in September.

"I found that all this time in my life I have been preparing to be a yoga teacher," Matthews said.

Her physical therapy expertise, coupled with college classes in physical education and athletic training, armed her with excellent skills when she became a yoga instructor, she said.

"I am adapting Hatha yoga, solid physical therapy practices for strengthening and flexibility, and using yoga props to adapt yoga postures for everyone," Matthews said. She eventually plans to offer classes for clients with specific health issues, such as arthritis.

She said yoga is not a religion.

"It's a practice of learning to trust yourself -- of listening to your own intelligence that your body has. To learn to stand in any situation and be able to speak your truth," Matthews said.

This is achieved through a series of steps. Initially, yoga students work on attaining different postures, and keeping their bodies in proper alignment while in these positions.

Matthews explained that the twisted, oh-my-gosh-how-do-they-do-that yoga postures sometimes shown in magazines are very advanced positions. There are many beginner-level postures that are much simpler to achieve.

After attaining the posture, students practice breathing in that position. They learn to breath deeply and exhale slowly, completely releasing the air they've taken in. They practice breathing in every posture.

Students are taught to center themselves, find alignment, practice breathing, and then move from posture to posture.

"It helps increase our flexibility, increase our strength and then increase our endurance and ability to achieve that posture more effectively," Matthews said.

Stress reduction, increased range of motion, strength and flexibility are the goals of the practice.

"It's very important to learn to manage stress," Matthews said. "What I am learning with yoga are just very wonderful ways to kick yourself out of a stressful situation and learn to find that calmness and center within you that allows you the perspective to make the decisions you need to make."

Classes are available at different times. One-hour and one-and-a-half-hour courses are offered, and run on four- or six-week cycles, respectively.

A variety of other services are available at the Yoga Life Center, including therapeutic massage, postural analysis and raindrop technique, a massage using aromatherapy and essential oils.

Joy Blackburn is a staff writer at the Daily American Republic.

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