Beginners are welcome at all classes. The Tuesday and Wednesday classes are restorative yoga classes, while the Sunday class is a general Level 1 yoga class. All three classes are also open to the public on a paying basis. The Tuesday classes are taught by Claudia Kuhns, the Wednesday classes are taught by Kila Lau, and the Sunday classes are taught by Emma Addison.
Our classes teach Yoga in the tradition of B.K.S. Iyengar. His method of Hatha Yoga is
characterized by precision of body alignment, the use of props (blocks,
straps, blankets, mats, and chairs) to help students accomplish various
Yoga poses, and an understanding of the therapeutic potential of Yoga.
The primary focus of Iyengar Yoga for beginners is on the Yoga
poses (asanas). The student can then progress to learning specific
exercises (pranayama), and other aspects of Yoga.
Although Iyengar Yoga
is generally quite vigorous, for students living with HIV/AIDS we primarily focus on restorative poses that work well even for people in a weakened state. Restorative poses use props for support in different positions, so that gravity facilitates realignment and stimulation of the body. We also place emphasis on inverted poses (like headstand) to stimulate the immune system. Students in good health may also benefit from and enjoy the Level 1 class on Sundays, which may include more vigorous yoga poses.
The practice of
Yoga can provide many physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual
benefits. On a physical level, Yoga poses (asanas) can increase
flexibility, strength, balance, and coordination. Many physical
ailments or conditions can be relieved through Yoga practice.
Yoga can also help stabilize the emotions. Some poses are
calming and others invigorating. Yoga
asanas, relaxation techniques, and breathing exercises can help
focus the attention and reduce mental "chatter." By becoming more
aware of one's own body, mind, and spirit, the Yoga practitioner
can also experience profound spiritual growth.
We are not aware of
any specific studies on the efficacy of Yoga for HIV/AIDS, but studies
do suggest that exercise and reduced stress can be beneficial. As
stated by Mary Schatz, M.D., in the July/August, 1987 issue of Yoga
No one knows [if yoga can halt or reverse the
progression of AIDS]. There is no evidence that yoga's salutary effects on the
immune system would also work in an immune system already ravaged
by the AIDS virus. Nor is there evidence that yoga practices can
act as a preventative. Still, yoga does have something positive
to offer to someone with AIDS: anxiety reduction, stress
management, and a form of exercise that can be adapted to one's
level of energy and stamina....Finally, a yoga practice offers
something positive for the AIDS patient to do to help counteract
feelings of depression, helplessness, and despair.
We do not have the resources to conduct a scientific study of whether the ancient wisdom of yoga can delay or reduce the
progression of AIDS, but we believe that this is entirely possible. Some
of our students also report that Yoga practice helps alleviate side
effects of some treatment drugs.