September is Yoga Awareness Month and we encourage you to give it a try. Although the popularity of yoga is newly on the rise in this country, it is one of the few practices which has sustained for thousands of years on multiple continents throughout the world. So there must be something to it, right?
As those who practice yoga will tell you, the benefits are numerous on many levels; yet it is hard to comprehend until you experience it. It can be exercise for the body, peace for the mind, and a window for the spirit. It may be one of these things for some, and all of these things for others.
With approximately 20 different styles practiced today – from gentle and restorative to toning and detoxifying – the greatest challenge is finding the one that is right for you. Although most are based on the same physical postures, each has a particular emphasis such as flow, breath, alignment or meditation.
But one of the shared principles is this: Yoga is not about how well you do compared to others in the room. It is about you and your yoga mat on that day, at that time. A resonating focus is on positive thought and calm mind, and our local yoga community is one of the friendliest and most welcoming you will find.
We spoke with a variety of Valley residents – from ages 9 to 93 – who practice yoga. They are all busy people with full schedules, friends and family who feel their lives are richer, and even easier, because they make their yoga practice a priority.
Mike Harris (53) Indian Wells
Financial Advisor, Avid Cyclist, Soccer Coach, Dad
Mike has a corporate job and, like many of us, has spent 30 years sitting at a desk. In addition to driving his son to Temecula for his traveling soccer team twice weekly, Mike coaches a competitive team himself.
He has been doing yoga for four years and tries to fit it in two days a week. “I find that yoga reverses some of the impact of sitting at a desk for all those years,” he says referring to the back bend and hip opening postures that counteract the seated position.
He also notes that it is also a great way to release stress and to unwind. “When I played more golf, the standard practice was to end the round with another at the bar where everyone shared their aches and pains. All the people I have encountered in yoga are very positive. It’s a healthy lifestyle and you are around others who eat well, take care of their bodies, and are happier because of it.”
Javier Madrigal (30) Coachella
General Counselor/Associate Professor at COD, Triathlete
Javier has done a few triathlons over the past years, but recently set his sights on his first Iron Man competition taking place December 1 in Mexico. He started practicing yoga two years ago and increased his practice to three times a week this year. He finds that yoga complements his weight and cross training. “It has helped with my biomechanics and conserving energy, and I consider it the biggest contributor to staying injury free.”
How does he balance training, work and yoga? “This is part of why I am doing yoga. It creates a positivity that I carry with me through all I do. It enables me to be patient and to stay focused.” He adds that yoga helped him create a mindset of being calm. “Some of my friends and colleagues see this in me and have commented. Situations arise in life or at work and I am able to remain calm. Life is a journey and you have to evaluate, re-evaluate and move forward with a positive attitude.”
Kate Rust (45) La Quinta
Business Professional, Mom: 2 kids, 2 dogs and 12 Polo Ponies
Kate is a busy professional and mother who attributes much of her personal growth and well-being to yoga. She has been practicing 4-5 times per week for four years. “I used to have headaches all the time which have gone away, and I am happier with the way my body looks. I lost 10 pounds without trying and just feel more fit.”
She is one of those people who can never stop and is always on the move. “Yoga is a complete release for me and helps me practice living more in the ‘now,’ to leave the past behind and say, ‘right now everything is good.’ I am happy and healthy and grateful.”
Father Benedict Reid (93) Palm Desert
Active Community Member and Yogi
Benedict is one of those centered souls with a calm demeanor to which you are automatically drawn. You would think he has been practicing yoga all his life; however, he just recently picked it up at 87 and practices twice weekly at at the Joslyn Senior Center.
“Yoga is life. It encompasses body, mind and spirit. It has loosened up my 93 year-old body and anchored my breathing, which has lifted up my mind and opened my spirit.”
In yoga, he says, ‘you simply keep breathing and gently walking into abundance.’
Shawn Behernfeld, DVM (39) Rancho Mirage
Veterinary Surgery Business Owner, Musician
Shawn’s surgery schedule keeps him busy, but he practices 3-4 times a week and considers yoga one of the most important elements in his life. He uses it for many things including posture and balance. “With surgery, I am often hunched over and yoga allows me to counter-bend my back from this position, balancing things out.”
Shawn has been a percussionist for 30 years and says that yoga helps him with balance which comes in to play on the drum set. “Drumming is a seated dance, so it is important to have balance between the upper and lower parts of the body, as well as the right to left.” He adds that some of the best drummers in the world practice yoga.
He has found it helpful through emotional and stressful times as well.
“Yoga is so important for me that I have to make time for it. It has helped me stay positive through a lot of things. I use yoga to complement almost everything I do.”
Brielle Caffrey (9) La Quinta
Children’s practice is growing just as quickly as for adults, and Brielle is what many call a ‘little yogini.’ This third grader at Desert Christian Academy has been practicing for two years and loves it. “Yoga exercises me and makes me feel good,” which she further describes as ‘rested and calmed down.’
“I am really flexible and yoga helped me get more flexible.” She is going to start dance classes soon “which will help me with my yoga.” (I inform her that her yoga will probably help her with her dance classes as well).
Brielle practices once or twice a week and when I ask her what she does for fun, she says, “Yoga.” She adds that her favorite pose is downward dog because it is funny to see things upside down. When asked why she thinks other kids should do yoga, she says to help them calm down. “When I get in stressful situations, I use my breathing and it helps me stay calm.”
This is your time to experience the many benefits of yoga for yourself. Don’t blame it on lack of time, because as you’ve read, yoga has the ability to actually simplify a busy life, or at least the way you walk through it.
We have included a comprehensive list of yoga studies in the Valley to get you started. Many yoga events are also taking place throughout the desert including Yoga Across America on September 14, and for you seasoned vets, Bhatki Fest West September 5-8 in Joshua Tree.
Let us know how yoga helps you! Join the conversation on our Desert Health® Facebook page.
For an overview of the different styles of yoga, see the Yoga Style Guide at About.com. For information on local Yoga Across America events, contact Bronwyn Ison at 760.564.9642. For a yoga studio near you, see the following list and get started today!
Coachella Valley Yoga Studios
Mizell Senior Center
480 South Sunrise Way
A variety of classes (beginner through advanced)
333 North Palm Canyon #214
Urban Yoga Center
Traditional Hatha: gentle, urban, vinyasa, power
458 South Palm Canyon Drive
Aerial yoga and a variety of styles
4741 E. Palm Canyon Drive , Suite E
Yoga of breath and laughter
69040 C East Palm Canyon Dr.
Desert Yoga Therapy
Restorative, gentle, vinyasa, therapeutic and chair
Chair, restorative and vinyasa
Bikram Yoga Palm Desert
73-890 El Paseo Dr
(back side of El Paseo)
Bikram Yoga Plus
Bikram, trapeze, variety of styles
36869 Cook St. Ste #101
Go With the Flow Yoga
Strong and gentle vinyasa and restorative
72205 Painters Path
Jocelyn Senior Center
Yoga for seniors
73750 Catalina Way
A variety of styles
Saturdays @ 9 am
73470 El Paseo Blvd
Ashtanga and Iyengar
73875 Highway 111
Vinyasa, gentle, restorative, children and teen programs
50991 Washington @ Calle Tampico
Vinyasa flow, restorative, teens and monthly workshops
78370 Hwy 111 @ Washington, Ste #185
Indio Senior Center
Yoga for seniors
45700 Aladdin St
We sincerely apologize in advance for any studios we may have missed. To be added to the list, please email [email protected] Thank you!