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Yoga Group Classes

NOTE: The Yoga Group ceased operations as of June 30, 2017. Please see our Home Page for more information. Below is a description of the classes that we used to offer.

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 breathing 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 Journal:

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.

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