I recently visited the Inner Bodyworks Yoga Studio located in the heart of downtown Bakersfield, California. This studio is Bakersfield's oldest, full service, dedicated yoga studio. I take this to mean there may be have been gyms or organizations in the city that offered yoga classes earlier than this studio, but those gyms or organizations were not dedicated solely to the exercise of yoga. Even Inner Bodyworks offers a few other classes, one of which is called "Qi Gong" and then had its name changed to "Qi Yoga."
From their schedule, which is available at their website, you can see they offer yoga classes for kids, for beginners, restorative yoga and "flow" classes. There is also a class called "playful practice." You can read the biographies of all their teachers. A more skilled set of people you couldn't ask for, one of them has a Phd! In addition to the regularly scheduled yoga classes are workshops. This month are two: an arm balancing workshop and one titled "Awaking the Spine."
The first yoga studio I ever attended was in Honolulu, Hawai'i. I took a class that was especially for pregnant women. Because of our condition we were not practicing very strenuous maneuvers. We were mainly concerned with stretching and breathing. Both of those skills came in handy when I gave birth. The yoga calmed my mind in addition to keeping me lithe. There are hormones secreted during pregnancy that make a woman more flexible that usual, so rather than straining to make pose, the instructor spent most of the class reining us in.
I didn't see any classes on the schedule at Inner Bodyworks specific to pregnant women, so I don't know their corporate philosophy regarding yoga while pregnant. If they would allow you to participate, I bet a "restorative" yoga class would feel nice. Restorative yoga is all about the stretching. You do less than the normal number of poses and stay in each one for a longer period that normal. You may feel like you are not burning very many calories, because it isn't aerobic like a power flow class. It has its merits though. For older people who are stiff, beginners, or people trying to overcome an injury, restorative yoga is a good starting class.
I had been doing yoga for about four months before I discovered this studio. I sometimes did a restorative class after a regular class of yoga. The two are a nice combination because the restorative is like a really long cool down. I found I sleep better and my muscles were less sore when I did two of those classes rather than just one of yoga basics. The yoga basics class at Inner Bodyworks is a great workout. We all found ourselves sweating profusely. I was even a little lightheaded. I could feel after four months of doing yoga two to three days a week my arms and leg muscles getting stronger. I also felt more balanced and more subtly aware of my body.
It used to be I "lived to eat." If I were depressed a piece of cake or a doughnut would make me feel better. I disliked the taste of fruit and preferred processed food. White flour? No problem, White Rice? White Sugar? It was like my diet had no fiber. When my skinny Minnie friends would talk about how they loved to each salad, I would be mystified by that remark. To me, a salad was something I slathered blue cheese dressing on, to mask the taste. I stopped weighing myself at 170, so I couldn't tell you how big I got, I only noticed feeling vaguely annoyed when I could no longer shop for clothes in regular department stores. "How inane," I would huff, "that they don't even want me as a customer! Why can't they carry anything above a 16? " And so on, I never thought I had a health problem.
Since before I started the yoga I switched to a "eat to live" lifestyle. Now whole foods are all I eat. When I'm full I stop eating. I quit weighting myself when I got down to 140, so I can't tell you how small I got, only that I could fit a size 4 jeans. I no longer put dressing on salad. When I am in yoga class if I feel myself starting to cramp I pull myself into the counter pose without waiting to be told. I am so much more in touch with what my body needs and wants.
Driving from my home in the mountains to the Inner Bodyworks studio represents an hour long drive for me, far for me although not much of a commute by Los Angeles standards. I like to line up two classes in a row if I'm making that kind of trek. So I tried a Qi Gong or Qi Yoga class for no other reason than its time slot on Wednesday night. The "Qi" refers to energy that travels through the human body. Acupuncturists and Accupressurists also talk about Qi, which optimally flows freely through your body. Disease is when the Qi is blocked. The same word Qi, I'm pretty sure is part of Tai Chi, because Tai Chi is a continuous smooth movement.
The first night I did Qi Gong I felt silly. The exercises seemed so simple, I didn't see how they could be doing us any good. When people asked questions the instructor hesitated from judging our technique as good or bad, right or wrong, it was always "interesting." We were encouraged to try things out, see what our body said. The second time I went back the class had been renamed Qi Yoga, but it was essentially the same. The second class I took I all of a sudden experienced the feeling of Qi! I could literally feel the heat in my hands. I tuned into myself and wondered if it were psycho somatic.
Was I imagining the "energy" going up and down my
meridians? The instructor told us in
Chinese medicine different emotions are connected to different organs of the
body. Anger resides in the liver. I thought of my friend who had recently died
from liver and lung cancer. Sadness
rests in the lungs. I thought of myself
and all the feelings I had harbored since my husband left me. I got really into the Qi. It isn't the get super tired and sweaty kind of workout yoga basics gives me, it is a sweet remember your energy and why I am on this planet work out.