I recently had the chance to attend yoga classes at a lovely studio in Round Rock called The Yoga Room. My instructor, Angela, is one of the best I’ve ever experienced. She is clear, experienced, caring, and thorough, not to mention has a sense of humor.
The studio was founded on the premise that EveryBody can practice yoga. Very often people have a misperception that you have to be thin, young, and flexible to practice yoga, and unfortunately they don’t realize that they can begin enjoying the benefits of yoga right now, regardless of their current condition.
What I love about yoga is being in poses where it causes very specific muscles to be highlighted and that I actually feel those specific parts of my body in a pose. This is something that does not happen in normal movement throughout the typical day.
I also love giving myself permission to simply stretch out and work to give my body the flexibility that it needs without having to get into some ridiculous cardio workout.
Zelinda, the founder of The Yoga Room took some time to answer some questions for TLM:
1. When did you open The Yoga Room and what was your inspiration?
I opened The Yoga Room in October, 2010, and I had a pretty unique inspiration. My plan was to open a yoga studio where all kinds of people, with all kinds of bodies, could practice and benefit from yoga. This inspiration was based upon my own introduction to yoga. I started practicing yoga right after college when I was living in the California Bay Area and working as an engineer at Hewlett Packard. I brought my average American body over to a yoga studio and was practicing alongside some very athletic women who I later learned were members of the Stanford swimming team and who were training for the Olympics. It was a pretty intimidating experience, but I continued attending classes because I was getting so many benefits, such as stress management and increased ability to focus at work. I think it was then that the seed was planted that with all the amazing benefits yoga has to offer, EveryBody should have a place where they feel comfortable practicing.
2. Tell us about the mental, physical and spiritual benefits of yoga.
The benefits of yoga are seemingly unlimited. It is such a vast practice. In my experience, the majority of people begin to practice yoga for the physical benefits – they want to become more flexible. But people also become stronger, and depending upon the classes or lessons a person takes, they can also work on overcoming or managing pain, healing from a surgery, or managing stress.
In yoga we do physical poses so that we can practice paying attention to one thing, which happens to be our bodies. We observe sensations in the body, we observe alignment, we breathe. As we consistently pay attention to our bodies, our overall mental focus improves, and we begin to see improved mental focus in other areas of our lives.
The spiritual benefits also stem from learning to focus by paying attention to our bodies. Poses are challenging in different ways. Some poses are physically challenging. Some may be physically simple, but held for a long period of time, making them mentally challenging. The person may become bored or frustrated as they hold the pose. The person’s spirit is challenged and grows from these experiences. We learn to observe how our minds and bodies react to physical stress and mental stress. We learn to use conscious breathing and awareness of the body to sustain ourselves through stressful poses.
Once mental focus has improved to a certain degree, one might be interested in learning meditation, which is a more advanced practice. The point of meditation is to learn to sustain focus on one thing for a period of time. In the physical yoga practice we focus on the body, but when one is sitting in meditation the body really isn’t doing much of anything, so the practitioner must use a more subtle object of focus such as their breath or an image or a mantra.
All of this practice observing and focusing translates into life off the mat. We learn to be aware of ourselves in everyday life situations. We learn how to maintain our peace.
A different, but important, spiritual benefit is getting past our cultural expectations about how our bodies are “supposed” to look. Through continued yoga practice we begin to appreciate and honor our bodies for what they are capable of doing. After some time we stop worrying much about the cellulite, the loose skin, the saddlebags. Instead we are grateful that we breathe, that we have the opportunity to form friendships and relationships with others, that we have a life to live and that we can serve others and that we can have fun. I’ve heard many of our students say that the facade falls away and the people are their real selves.
3. What keeps practitioners coming back time after time?
I think it’s two things. It’s the way yoga makes you feel and it’s the amazing community that has grown at The Yoga Room.
4. Tell us about the different options for classes/passes.
We offer a very broad range of group classes, from very gentle to very strong. What sets us apart from other studios is our serious commitment to our philosophy of Yoga for EveryBody. Not only do we have a large range of class styles, but we also customize and modify the practice as needed so that every person can participate and benefit. Several variations are offered for every posture and we are respectful of every person’s level of ability.
We offer more than 45 group classes per week. These classes are offered on a drop-in basis, meaning no reservation or appointment is needed. Students can choose from various payment options. They can pay per class or purchase a class pass for 5 or 10 classes. The bigger the class pass, the larger the discount per class. For students who practice with us twice or more per week (some people come every day!), we recommend our unlimited passes. We have a One Month Unlimited, an auto-renewing Monthly Unlimited that automatically bills each month, and even an Annual Unlimited pass.
For new students we recommend the First Week Unlimited Pass. For just $10 people can try out as many classes as they’d like for seven days, and mat rental is included.
We also offer a six week Beginners Series, special workshops on a variety of topics, and Private Lessons for people who wish to focus on something specific, like anatomical posture, a health issue, pain, or even for individual guidance to begin practicing yoga.
We also offer two Yoga Alliance registered teacher training programs. Our 200 Hour Hatha Yoga Teacher Training is based on our unique Yoga for EveryBody, therapeutic style of teaching. Our Prenatal Yoga Teacher Training is an advanced training for Yoga Teachers and health professionals who wish to specialize in yoga for pregnancy. Our Advanced (300 Hour) Therapeutics-based Teacher Training will begin in the Fall of this year.
By Marika Flatt and Elaine Krackau