Stretching your mind |

Stretching your mind

Caramie Schnell

Jamie Allison, owner of Om Zone Yoga Studio in Edwards, was introduced to yoga in 1989. By 1992, she was teaching classes across the valley, in the Vail Racquet Club and the Cascade Club among others.”Yoga has really taken off,” Allison said. “It has become more mainstream and that is the good news and that’s also the bad news. It’s wonderful that so many people have the opportunity to be exposed to yoga, but it’s just that the quality of yoga may vary dramatically. There are a lot of well meaning folks out there teaching yoga, but to become a highly-skilled yoga teacher takes years of practice, study, self-inquiry and ongoing study so that the science of biomechanics is understood.”Allison says yoga can help those suffering from back, neck, shoulder pain and many other ailments. People who are searching for a way to feel better without the use of prescription drugs, she says, can find guidance in yoga.Kathy Shaw, a physical therapist at Howard Head Sports Medicine Center in Vail, agrees.”I’m a huge believer,” says Shaw, who practices yoga three times a week at the Bikram Studio.”If you keep your hips and your ankles more open, looser, you’re less likely to tear your ACL or MCL, the usual ski injuries.”And there are other health benefits as well, Shaw says.”People lower their blood pressure, they’ve actually come off their blood pressure medication because (of yoga). People have come off their cholesterol medication because it lowers your cholesterol.”Shaw also says there’s evidence that yoga can strengthen vision, because focusing the eye is a key part of the balance required in yoga.Allison has seen many people transformed by yoga.Allison believes that, as time goes by, many people begin to realize that in order to enjoy a richer life, we have to move beyond the “party hardy” mindset and take better care of ourselves.According to Stacey Vachon, program manager and personal trainer for Aria Spa and Club at Vail Cascade Resort, Yoga is definitely something that has been increasing in popularity over the years.”We’ve had yoga classes here for the past 15 years or so,” Vachon says. “We do 13 yoga classes a week. Our class numbers have doubled in the last two years alone. People are starting to see the benefits. People are able to do more of the sports they love without getting injured. And if they already do have an injury, yoga is great because it isn’t too high-impact, whereas some of the other classes can be.”– Caramie Schnell– Tom Boyd contributed to this story

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