Yoga offers total body workout, focuses on individual abilities


Many people looking for a way to combine relaxation with exercise turn to yoga as a perfect balance of the two.

Enid Cocke, a former professor in the English Language Program, said she enjoys yoga because of the relaxation it gives her after being stressed. Cocke has been doing yoga for several years and said she started doing it because she was looking for a total body exercise, even after a lifetime of activity in tennis, cycling and modern dance. Cocke said yoga has enhanced her dance abilities and made her more flexible than she was even as a dancer.

Yoga is a form of exercise that focuses on individual abilities within different poses, each of which have different goals, like strength building, toning or flexibility. People who participate are encouraged to modify each pose to their own ability and avoid pushing themselves into something that is uncomfortable or impossible for them to do.

“In yoga, people are inside themselves rather than comparing themselves to others,” Cocke said. “There are some moments when you see what others are doing, but it should never be a situation where you’re comparing yourself to another person in the class.”

CP Ward, a group fitness instructor at Peters Recreation Complex, has been practicing yoga for nine years and began teaching when her friend Susan Allen, director of the Women’s Center, “tricked” her into teaching it seven years ago.

“We can have 100 people doing the same pose but we should all look different doing it because we are all built differently,” Ward said, agreeing with Cocke, who is one of her students.

Ward said yoga can have effects beyond simple fitness benefits and can help a person improve their life in general.

“Yoga has helped me be a more compassionate person,” Ward said. “It’s very calming and there’s also that space where you reflect on things and you have time to contemplate.”

While some people considering yoga think it might be too difficult or boring to suit their taste, Ward said anyone can do yoga; people simply must find the right teacher and approach it with the right attitude.

“Yoga is for everybody,” Ward said. “You have to just keep doing it and listen to and respect your body while you do it. Use your intelligence and never give up.”

Ward said she encourages students interested in trying yoga to check out the schedule of group fitness sessions at the Rec Complex and try all of the yoga classes offered before choosing one to attend regularly.

“There is a teacher for everybody,” Ward said. “You just have to find the right person to guide you through yoga.”