"A number of people look at yoga as preventive medicine," says yoga instructor and massage therapist Lance Lorenzo. "And a lot of people come to yoga to relieve old injuries." Both groups often also find that it relieves stress and increases energy; many students talk of improved eating habits and sleep patterns.
"People evolve in all different directions," says Lorenzo, who has taught yoga at the Mesa YMCA for two years. "If a person can get through the first couple months, it’s amazing to see how it carries over into their life."
And he speaks not solely of the physical sense, but also the spiritual sense. Though some facilities teach ashtanga yoga on strictly a physical plane, Lorenzo reminds students that the discipline is based in spiritual concepts.
Lorenzo starts every power yoga class with "Sun Salutation," a series of gently flowing movements synchronized with breathing. The movements are of special benefit to beginners and people experiencing stiffness because they can be performed within individual comfort zones and promote flexibility.
Movements included in the Sun Salutation will be demonstrated each Thursday in June as part of the Exercises of the Week series. To perform the poses, Lorenzo recommends people wear something pliable but not too loose, because inverted poses can cause clothing to fall over the face. Yoga is best performed barefoot on a mat, which prevents slipping and protects joints.