What exercise regimen helps to exercise the body and the mind? What can people do that helps them feel better and learn to listen to their bodies? What type of class can one attend that at the finish brings feelings of relaxation and energization?

Try yoga. “I like that it is always different,” said Stephanie Cole, yoga instructor at the AJ Smith Recreation Center. “Some days it is going to be a stress reliever. Other days it is more a workout.”

Stephanie has been practicing yoga since 2007 when she took it in college to fulfill a requirement. Her favorite pose to practice is King Dancer. “Yoga is about finding yourself and coming back to what’s important in your own body,” said Beth Flumignan from Way of Life Yoga Studio in Tecumseh.

A practitioner of yoga since 2007, Beth began as a way to safely exercise while she was pregnant. She loves practicing Triangle pose and Child’s pose.

Her partner in Way of Life Yoga Studio, Heather Herrera, first began practicing yoga in 2008, but it wasn’t until 2016 that she found her yoga groove. Practicing Downward Facing Dog is an important part of her practice. A popular misconception about yoga is the practice is only for people who are flexible. The truth is yoga can help any person be more flexible, get stronger, improve concentration, lose weight and have better balance. “You don’t go to algebra class already knowing how to do algebra, so why would you come to yoga class expected to know yoga?” said Heather. And don’t think yoga is all about a meditative ‘om.’ “A lot of people think yoga is just peaceful stretching,” Stephanie said. “When people come and see we are doing pushups they are quite surprised. People don’t understand the physical extremes and the mental aspects of yoga.”

Experienced instructors must know many different poses and which part of the body each pose benefits. The specialized training requires an understanding of complete human anatomy from head to toe.

Most people have seen photos of the experienced yoga practitioners in poses that are breathtaking and seeming impossible for the average person. However, the beauty of yoga is how each pose can look different depending on things like experience, flexibility and what is needed to loosen up a particular area.

Modifications of poses allow people of all experience and levels of flexibility to experience the physical and mental benefits of yoga. Stephanie, Beth and Heather are all skilled in modifying poses for individuals in their classes.

Moving into a yoga pose requires working to get the greatest stretch — there’s a lot of adjusting that happens, even for the most experienced yoga practitioners. Good teachers like Beth, Heather and Stephanie work with each student to help everyone in the class understand what should happen with the pose and how they can get the most benefits. “I try to help the students learn,” said Stephanie.

A very important component of every yoga practice is using the proper breathing method to relax muscles and go deeper into each pose. Focusing on the breath of the body helps with awareness of where a person is holding stress and helps to release that stress.

Yoga recognizes how the mind and body work together to increase or relieve tension. During yoga practice, guiding the minds of students is important for teachers. “Every teacher is more than a physical instructor,” Heather said. “I really try to give a transformative experience.”

Community is an important part of yoga. For many people the supportive environment becomes like family. Way of Life Yoga Studio has a wide age range in some of their classes, from 13 to people in their 70s. “Tecumseh is an amazing place for yoga,” said Beth.

For those ready to experience the power of themselves through yoga, Way of Life Yoga Studio and AJ Smith Recreation Center have a variety of class choices that include the ability to drop in and try out a class.

Way of Life Yoga Studio
101 W. Chicago Blvd., Ste 130, Tecumseh
Drop In = $10
Five-Class Pack = $40
10-Class Pack = $70
A variety of classes offered in mornings and evenings. Chair Yoga, Blend Yoga, Restore Yoga, Evolve Yoga and Tai Chi.

Yoga with Stephanie Cole
Tecumseh Parks and Recreation AJ Smith Recreation Center
810 N. Evans St., Tecumseh
$7 for Tecumseh residents
$8 for non-residents
punch card offers 11 visits for $55 (Tecumseh residents) or $65 (non-residents)
Classes: Mondays & Thursdays
Gentle Stretch Yoga: 5:30pm
Yoga: 7pm

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