September is Yoga Awareness Month
Karin Collinsworth and Leah Doctorello, county employees with Public Health, teach yoga for their colleagues in the Chinook building Activity Center. “Last year, research came out about how sitting, like we do at desk jobs, is bad for your health,” Karin said. “This alarmed me. I was having recurring shoulder inflammation from hours at the keyboard, and noticed my coworkers were having back and leg pain. My physical therapist told me to do more yoga. I thought ‘ME? Do more yoga?’ But despite years of practicing yoga and learning more forms and types of yoga, I was inconsistent in my practice. I was inspired by the Health Reform Program – my co-workers and I needed to get moving. Teaching a class for them has been a way for me to do yoga more regularly and stick to it. My shoulder appreciates it.”
Leah inherited an onsite yoga class when her co-worker left the county. She’d been practicing yoga for several years on her own, and attending a class taught by her colleague during lunchtimes. When her colleague took a job in San Francisco, other class members looked to Leah. For Leah, yoga is about personal growth. She loves the mental and physiological benefits. “We’re so lucky to have a county culture that supports physical activity at work. It’s becoming part of the county mentality – take time to go to lunch, take care of yourself and make the most of the spare time you have to invest in your health.” Leah likes motivating people and helping people find ways to improve themselves. In the year she’s been teaching her class, Leah’s noticed differences in her class members. “I can see how they’ve grown in yoga. They can try more difficult poses and hold them longer. They’re stronger.”
Both Leah and Karin hear from class members that they feel better after class – more alert, relaxed, recharged and productive. Karin says “We don’t realize when we get stressed we hold our breath in. It feels good to breathe, particularly when we’re stressed. Yoga helps with that. And studies show exercise helps keep you younger.
“Feeling scared, depressed, stressed out, insecure? Just start moving,” says Leah.
“Yoga can be about mind and body connection, it can be about stretching and relaxation, or it can be about exercise and strengthening. Yoga is personal – you can find poses and classes to suit your needs,” says Leah. “Don’t be intimidated to try it. If you’re attending for the first time, just tell the instructor. They’ll look out for you. Take a buddy. Try a class at a community center instead of at a yoga studio – it may be less full and less advanced. Even if it isn’t yoga, find something you like. But just try it.”
Karin’s favorite yoga quote is the motto from a studio near her home: “Do a little yoga a lot rather than a lot of yoga a little.” She encourages her co-workers to “Start doing yoga simply by uniting some breathing with your movement. Use your breath to sit straighter and taller, then relax your eyes, face and neck and improve your posture. That’s yoga. Paying attention to your breathing will make you ready for whatever is going on -- on the mat or in your life.”
Yoga Month activities are going on all September. Visit yogamonth.org for events and a weekly pass to a studio near you.