Strike a yoga pose at a Highland Lakes studio
The most common reason for not practicing that yoga instructors hear is, “I’m not flexible.”
Don’t be intimidated by the experts. It took them years of practice to do their contortion-level poses.
Yoga can be intimidating. Seeing peers in a class effortlessly lift into a headstand or push into a backbend can make the less-experienced yogi feel self-conscious.
“The hardest part is going to class for the very first time,” said Brad Offutt, owner of Heart & Soul Yoga in Marble Falls. “Bring into mind that every person in the class had their first time, too.”
The Highland Lakes is a great place to start your yoga practice. The studios are small communities, lending open arms to any new students, regardless of age or gender. The instructors embody the zen way of life; practice is made up of patient communication and meditation. If you are visiting from out-of-town, studios offer drop-in classes or introductory packages. If you live in the area, consider a membership to cultivate your body, mind and soul.
Heart & Soul Yoga
In 2011, Offutt had an awakening. He had been in real estate for 20 years and was dealing with a heap of personal and self-destructive problems. He needed to get out of his haze and fulfill his life’s purpose, so he tried yoga. He soon fell in love with the practice, became a certified teacher and has since taught yoga around the world.
“With yoga, I was able to free myself,” Offutt said with a deep, cleansing breath. He endorses yoga as a daily practice for mental and physical health. “Simply by moving the body, we remove ourself from ‘stuck’ — stuck energy, stuck thoughts.”
Heart & Soul is a new studio where Offutt has cultivated a warm community. New students will be greeted with a hug — Offutt believes physical touch is missing in our society — and a sense of inclusion.
Heart & Soul Yoga is located at 707 Third St. in Marble Falls. Drop in for a single class or ask about its introductory offer. Call (830) 693-7546 or visit yogaheartsoul.com for more information.
“Yoga is medicine,” said Patti Cryer of The Studio in Marble Falls.
She started practicing yoga while working on her dissertation — she holds a doctorate in educational leadership — and believed yoga reduced her stress levels during that time.
Because of her background in education, Cryer felt at home as a yoga instructor. She teaches with a gentle patience and gets to know her students. She keeps the groups small, no more than 10 people. She educates as she moves students through the poses, explaining why they are doing certain movements and how it benefits them.
“I like helping people overcome obstacles,” she said with her kind voice. “I love to see people accomplish things they said they couldn’t. One woman came to me and said, ‘You’re asking too much from me; I’m a senior citizen!’ We laugh about that a lot now because she became a certified yoga teacher.”
Cryer considers The Studio to be more of a healing space than a yoga studio. She hosts grief counseling workshops that are integrated with yoga. Visitors can also come in for massage therapy, aromatherapy, sound meditation and deep relaxation.
Daily yoga classes at The Studio range from $5-$10. The Studio is located at 2250 U.S. 281 North in Marble Falls. Visit thestudiomf.com to view a class schedule or call (830) 613-8559 for more information.
Sana Vida in Marble Falls packs a lifestyle punch when it comes to health and wellness. It serves as a yoga studio, a tranquil tea bar and a restorative spa with acupuncture, massage therapy and skincare treatments.
As the longest-standing yoga studio in the area, Sana Vida has been instrumental in bringing the movement to the Highland Lakes. In fact, both Offutt and Cryer received their teacher training under Patti McCormick, the owner of this rejuvenation destination.
"What I love about yoga is the ability for something so simple to create relief for pain and stress,” McCormick said. "I love its ability to change your relationship with yourself — how you feel about yourself and others. It makes you a more patient and forgiving person."
McCormick emphasizes that yoga brings its students closer to their own spirituality, no matter what religion they hold. While yoga has roots in Hindu traditions, you don’t have to convert to Hinduism to practice.
“The practice of yoga and meditation clears your mind for what your higher power has to say to you,” she explained. “If your mind is cluttered, you miss out on that inspiration."
McCormick promotes the practice for everyone, regardless of age or ability. However cliché it might sound, yoga is a way of life. It gives awareness about the here and now, enhances personal spirituality through meditation and teaches those who practice to be patient and grateful.
Sana Vida is a little oasis located at 507 RR 1431 East in Marble Falls. Try it out with the special rate for new students — just $25 for two weeks of unlimited practice. Go to sanavida.info or call (830) 693-6000 for more information.
Five poses for beginners
Try doing basic poses at home to get a feel for the practice to decide if it’s right for you. Once you’re off to a good start, bring your practice to class. Yoga teachers offer personal instructions and adjustments for poses to prevent injury.
Special thanks to Sharon Burke, instructor at Heart & Soul Yoga, for demonstrating the poses with ease.
1. Downward-facing dog
Adho Mukha Svanasana
This pose strengthens and lengthens the long muscles in the body. Keep a flat back and focus your gaze between your hands. Spread your fingers wide for balance.
2. Rag doll
Loosen up after a long day. Bend over and touch your toes then lightly grip your elbows. Let your shoulders and head hang limp. Gently sway side to side and take a few deeps breaths.
3. Seated spinal twist
This amazing twist gives life to the muscles in your back, shoulders and hips. Maintain a straight spine and gaze over your shoulder. Repeat on the other side.
4. Warrior II
Yoga can be a balancing act. This pose improves stability in the entire body. To start, make a 90-degree angle with your left leg, extending the right leg back. Plant your feet firmly into the ground for balance. Spread your shoulders and open your arms wide. Repeat on the other side.
Setu Bandha Sarvangasana
This pose is energizing. It is perfect for beginners looking to strengthen their spine. Start with your back flat on the floor, knees pointing up. Slide your shoulder blades together and lace your fingers underneath your back. With a strong exhale, slowly lift your hips to the ceiling and hold for 30 seconds to a minute and then slowly roll the spine down into the floor.
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