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Neighbors Growing Together | Jul 22, 2018

Who should yoga? You should yoga!

By Justin Webster | Nov 01, 2017
Photo by: Justin Webster Yoga instructor Meghan Dowd demonstrates the tree pose.

Winter is coming and while I find it hard enough to work out when it’s warm, it’s much more difficult in the cold.

Like many in the community, I’m in between seasons and have some extra time in the evenings so I thought I’d explore my new city and look for a good workout.

Five years ago, I broke my knee playing softball with a bunch of my radio friends. It happened when I was jogging home to cover a throw to the plate on the final play of a 15 run loss, which was completely unnecessary.

I tripped and fell, catching my entire 210 pound frame (at the time) flying forward with the front of my left cleat as it clung to the artificial turf. My leg hyper-extended at the knee, literally breaking it. My leg turned into a rainbow and my doctor said that “like Humpty Dumpty, there’s no surgery that can fix it.” He said I had a “forever injury” and I needed my left knee fully replaced and I was still six months away from turning 30.

I tell you this because I’m supposed to limit my walking and while that’s impossible for someone like me, I really can’t put high-impact stress on my knee that typically comes with a normal workout. I’ve been instructed to keep my workouts limited to water and eliptical machines due to their low-impact, but that forces me to workout when places are open, which like many of you, can be tricky with my schedule.

I’ve always been intrigued by yoga and thought it may be a good option for me, but had never taken a class even though one of my dear friends is an instructor in Baltimore. She started teaching after we worked together, so I was never exposed to that side of her.

I started by googling “yoga in Fairfield, Iowa” and called around until someone answered. The first to answer was Meghan Dowd, owner and instructor of Open Space Studio in downtown Fairfield.

Dowd graduated from FHS in “recent history” and fell in love with yoga when she moved west for college. When she moved back to Jefferson County in 2009, she couldn’t find a full studio, so she completed her training and opened her own.

I took my first ever class Thursday, a beginners’ course with a different instructor, but I imagine the results were equally awesome to most newcomers.

By definition, yoga is “a Hindu spiritual and ascetic discipline, a part of which, including breath control, simple meditation, and the adoption of specific bodily postures, is widely practiced for health and relaxation.”

Not only did I feel better leaving there, I felt less pain in my knees, back and usually sore hips. To be honest, it was slightly physically demanding since I’m out of shape, but everything is adaptable and can be done in variation. The point is to go at your own pace because there is no competition. You’re only working on yourself for your own personal gain and satisfaction, which allows you to drown out all of the other unnecessary factors from your daily whatever.

Like Dowd, I played a ton of sports growing up and through high school, and I could feel my inner-athlete smiling as I stretched muscles I forget existed.

Even if you’ve never been athletic, yoga allows you to destress while being as active as your ability allows.

If you sit in a car or at a desk a lot, your hips get so tight, your shoulders round forward, and yoga is an antidote for all of that.

Some misconceptions are that yoga is only for flexible people, when in fact, the less-flexible you are, the more yoga benefits you because it helps increase flexibility.

It’s kind of like the argument over “who needs to work out the most? The guy that’s buff or the guy that has a bunch of weight to lose?”

Dowd says her students come in all experience levels and abilities, and ages range from 12 to late 70’s with the majority of students in their 30s and 40s, ages where you start losing natural flexibility and strength.

Classes average about an hour, which includes both a 15-minute warmup and cool down, with a 30-45 minute section in the middle.

If you want to take classes in LA next to Carson Daly, you’re going to pay a pretty penny per hour, but most studios are priced for their communities with individual classes typically costing the same as a large pizza.

Beginner classes, like the one I took, are slower paced with teachers helping you survive any fears you may have with knowledge and patience.

My friend in Baltimore has started teaching yoga in elementary schools and the results are phenomenol.

Whether you come from a friendly place like Fairfield, or the scary streets of Baltimore, all children feel stress and yoga gives them a big breath in.

Breath is linked to our emotions and we breathe a certain way depending on how we’re feeling.

A couple of things I learned from this experience are that “long muscles are strong muscles,” and “most of us don’t fully inhabit our bodies.” I’m not sure how much of my body I’m currently inhabiting, but I’m going to go ahead and stretch somewhere warm, just to be safe.

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