Strike A Pose: The healing powers of yoga, on land and sea
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Yoga is sort of a strange thing to do: contort your body into unusual positions in a room full of strangers and then proceed to lie on the floor like a corpse and think of nothing.
But it truly is the ultimate mind-body-spirit activity.
Yoga is known to improve muscle tone, balance, flexibility and bone density, but it also gets under the skin and into your consciousness.
Many people prefer to do yoga in a group. Inevitably, a community forms within the group of yogis, usually fostering an inclusive environment of healthy living and acceptance.
Lindsay Reid, the owner of Elements Yoga and Holistic Wellness, says the roots of yoga are in meditation, the act of quieting and transcending the mind.
Originating in India, it is believed that the poses were introduced as a way of stilling the mind and body in preparation for meditation.
“For me, it is a lifestyle,” says Reid. “You feel a need to connect with not only yourself, but with other people in the class and sometimes emotions surface.”
Most classes begin with some time to quiet the mind, usually in a seated position.
“People are still agitated from the day,” says Reid. “The goal is to try to quiet the mind. We assume in meditation that you can't have any thoughts at all, but it's that over time the thoughts are slowed.”
After moving through various poses the class ends with savasana, or corpse pose, which is meant as a time of stillness.
Reid says savasana is about relaxing your mind and body while laying on the floor, allowing the benefits of yoga to penetrate into the next level of your being and appreciate the great thing you did for your body.
The poses have several benefits, rejuvenating the blood, lymph and nervous systems.
“It feels amazing,” says Reid. “You feel as though on some level you are healing yourself. People can heal. It's the power of the mind. You can't deny that when mind, body and spirit is in alignment, powerful things can happen.”
It is advisable to learn from a qualified instructor, one that is right for you.
Some instructors come at yoga from a fitness perspective and others from the spiritual side, working with charkas - the seven energy centres of the body - while others find a balance between.
Reid recommends practicing with an instructor who has a minimum of 200 hours of training, which is an industry standard as a starting point.
“Yoga is not going to fix everything. You have to do the work in and out of class. It's never too late to start and it can be an important part of preventative health care.”
Buddha Rider, located in Collingwood, is the largest yoga studio in the area and among its many classes, offers training for yoga instructors.
The studio has about 2,000 members and eight instructors teaching more than 20 classes each week.
The studio offers all kinds of yoga, including different intensities, mom and tot, hot yoga and pre-natal.
For the second year it has offered paddleboard yoga - standard yoga poses done on standup paddleboards on the bay, out of Southwinds Marine.
Buddha Rider owner Shirlee Williams says adding the paddleboard makes it fun and gets people out on the water.
“The summers are so short and it gets people out stretching and doing yoga,” says Williams.
Paddleboards and paddleboard yoga are growing trends in Canada, after gaining huge popularity in the United States, where paddleboard yoga is said to be all the rage.
“I love the idea that the foundation is unstable and we need to adapt. It's just like in life, when we constantly need to adapt on many levels,” says Williams.
“It's 100 per cent more challenging and the body has to figure out the best position so you can stand and maintain balance.”
In Wasaga Beach, Olea Health offers sunset yoga with instructor Isabel Fernandes, a personal trainer with Ki2life.
Fernandes said the yoga experience is enhanced by the sound of the waves, the fresh air and the soft sand.
“It's a peaceful environment. We don't use music, there are the pleasant sounds of nature and children playing,” said Fernandes.
The session is timed so that when people are coming out of savasana, they have a few moments to sit on the beach and watch the sun as it sinks below the horizon.
In Thornbury, Mantra Yoga Studio offers yoga on the pier. Yoga is also offered at many other fitness facilities, including the YMCA and is often offered by individuals in community centres and churches on a regular basis, making yoga more accessible than ever in the Georgian Bay area.
Trina Berlo has been practicing yoga on and off for about a decade and now considers it an essential part of life. Savasana (corps pose) is her favourite pose. 

Types of Yoga:
Hatha - slow paced and gentle
Vinyasa - breath synchronized
Ashtanga - fast paced and intense
Iyengar - focus on body alignment
Kundalini - for freeing energy
Bikram/hot yoga - pioneered by Bikram Choudhury, a set of 26 poses practiced in 95ºF to 100ºF to loosen tight muscles and cleanse through profuse sweating, but not all classes use the set series of poses.
Many other methods have been developed by contemporary practitioners. 

Yoga & Arts Festival
Buddha Rider is hosting Shri Fest, a yoga and arts festival, in November at the Village at Blue Mountain.
The festival takes place November 2-4 and will feature 15 yoga instructors from all over Ontario, hiking, lectures, live music and a farm to table dinner. A full weekend pass costs $210, a Saturday pass costs $129 and the dinner costs $65 and includes one glass of local wine. Accommodation is not included. Register online at www.buddharider.com.   

Buddha Rider
Yoga and Cycle Studio
136 St. Paul Street
Collingwood
www.buddharider.com
704-444-2266

Mantra Yoga Studio
33 Bruce Street South
Thornbury
www.mantrayogastudio.ca
705-351-8700

Blue Yoga Collective
Blue Mountain
www.blueyoga.ca
Contact information for the instructors is listed on the website.

Ki2Life
Wasaga Beach
www.ki2life.ca
705-429-5706

Elements Yoga and
Holistic Wellness
563 River Road West
Wasaga Beach
Lindsay_elements@live.com
705-352-0760

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