Yoga: The cure for the common exercise



by Christopher Kratzer
Air University Public Affairs


9/30/2011 - MAXWELL AIR FORCE BASE, Ala. -- The Maxwell fitness center has the answer for people overwhelmed with the stress of everyday life, or for those who want to lose weight and achieve greater flexibility.

Maj. Jannell MacAulay, a School of Advanced Air and Space Studies student, teaches a power yoga class once a week to provide a holistic workout focusing on muscle strength, endurance, flexibility and cardiovascular health.

"During the class, we go through a variety of yoga poses using a vinyasa flow format. The word vinyasa means 'breath-synchronized movement.' The first part of the class focuses on linking your breath to each movement as you transition through a series of poses," she said.

"Following the vinyasa flow (or cardio portion) of the yoga class, we perform a series of standing balances, abdominal and core-strengthening exercises and finish with extensive stretching and poses, which focus on increasing flexibility."

The class also allows participants to quiet their mind and focus on the present. The last portion of the class features the "savansa" (or relaxation pose), which relieves tension and stress, according to MacAulay.

She has seen the benefits of yoga first hand. It allowed her to balance the rigors of military life.

"Honestly, yoga changed my life. I've always been a fit person who taught aerobics and stayed in shape. But yoga taught me that there is so much more to true fitness. The internal fitness of your body and mind are equally as important to the external physical part," MacAulay said.

"Two years ago when my husband was deployed for a year, and I was burning the candle at both ends, I found yoga," she said. "It quickly became an important part of my life. It was 'scheduled' into my weekly routine and gave me the ability to balance an otherwise chaotic life."

Now she hopes to pass those benefits to others.

Jessica Turner, a military spouse and member of the class, said the class has provided physical and mental strength.

"I really benefit from the calmness of mind," she said. "I started doing yoga shortly after my grandmother passed away. I was having a really hard time dealing with it, and I went to a class a friend recommended to me. I realized afterwards that was probably the first hour in months I hadn't thought about what I had seen in the hospital. Yoga is really a place where you can focus on yourself."

Even if someone has never attempted yoga before, MacAulay encourages everyone to give it a shot.

"The great thing about yoga is that it really is for everyone. Everyone who attempts the class with an open mind and a positive attitude gains a lot more than they expected."