Monday, November 10, 2003

Yoga shapes up mind and body


Basic training

By Shauna Scott Rhone
The Cincinnati Enquirer

Although Jo Griffith doesn't look it, this limber global settlement specialist at Fifth Third Bank says she's not as flexible as she'd like to be.

I've got a long way to go," says Griffith, 28, of Clifton. She's been practicing yoga for about four years and started it as a cross-training activity for days she does not run.

"I damaged my knees running, so now I yoga all the time," she says, sometimes wowing her friends with physical angles that defy reason.

What is it?

Most yoga practiced in the United States is Hatha yoga, which is physical posture and meditation. The goal is to get more in touch with the physical body and mind.

How did you get started?

I started practicing yoga as a purely physical practice. It was a method of cross-training between the running and light weightlifting I was into several years ago. I recognized both of these activities lead to a decrease in flexibility, which caused problems. It was also something active I could do in the comfort of my own home.

What do you get out of it?

I get a little bit of stillness. Like many Americans, it seems like I have things that I am constantly worried about. While these have not disappeared out of my life, I do not think about them during my practice.

How much does it cost to get started?

For about $40, you can get a yoga mat and an instructional video. Individual classes at a studio cost about $10-$15 a class; most will have mats for beginners to rent for a couple of dollars or borrow for free. Also, sometimes studios have deals for beginners. Many gyms and the YMCA have classes.

How long does it take to get started?

Some people feel benefits during the first session. I would say a month of twice-a-week practice, and many people will feel the difference.

How long does it take to learn?

The answer that you would get asking most senior yoga teachers this question is, at least, a lifetime. There are always new ways to explore yourself and new eyes with which to look at the world.

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To nominate someone who has fun and keeps fit by playing sports or developing a new skill, e-mail: srhone@enquirer.com, fax: 768-8330; mail: Basic Training, The Enquirer, 312 Elm St.; Cincinnati, OH 45202. Include a daytime phone for you and your nominee.




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