Morning stretches

Hatha yoga at the Yoga Center

The Yoga Center, 720 Tahoe St., No. C, 881-7848, offers a variety of classes at a variety of times. Check out <a Kathy Randolph offers an unlimited 6:30 a.m. Tuesday-Friday class deal, $60 for six weeks.">

The Yoga Center, 720 Tahoe St., No. C, 881-7848, offers a variety of classes at a variety of times. Check out Kathy Randolph offers an unlimited 6:30 a.m. Tuesday-Friday class deal, $60 for six weeks.

Photo By D. Brian Burghart

The thing I like about yoga, particularly for writing Filet of Soul, is that it augments any religious or spiritual practice. In other words, while I can imagine some conventional minister saying, “Don’t go over to that Sikh, Muslim, Evangelist, Mormon, fillintheblank place,” I can’t imagine anyone saying, “I would prefer you not be more physically fit or more able to focus on your prayers by practicing yoga.”

Or is that just me?

Anyway, I’m an early riser, so I love the idea of stretching for an hour at 6:30 a.m. This time, it’s Kathy Randolph’s class, beginning hatha yoga. I’d never been to a class at the Yoga Center before, and while the directions sounded pretty easy—corner of St. Lawrence Avenue and Tahoe Street in Reno—the studio is kind of hidden away on the first floor of the old EDCO building.

I can’t begin to describe all the types of yoga, or even the advancements through the practice. Truth be told, I’ve been accused of practicing “yoga-lite,” essentially the idea that I’m not all obsessive about it or committed to it. This description of hatha yoga comes from the business’ website, “Hatha Yoga is founded on the truth that the state of the mind is inextricably combined with the condition of the body.”

At any rate, I practice yoga for the ease with which I reach that meditative space that often comes at the end of an hour of positions and stretching. I consider it the most “spiritual” thing I do, and as you know, I go to a lot of religious services.

This was the least physically demanding of all the yoga classes I’ve taken. But that’s not to say I was disappointed in any way. Randolph doesn’t have one of those patronizing soft, soothing voices you sometimes hear in yoga classes. She’s matter of fact, telling us the names of the poses and concepts in Sanskrit and English. She occasionally went around the room adjusting positions.

Now, I’m sorry, I’m trying to keep this very simple for people who’ve never done yoga, but I want to describe what happened. We essentially began with stretches to open our hips and hamstrings, including forward bends and backbends with a bridge pose. Next we did a series of four rotations—moderate to vigorous—designed to stretch, open and align the lower spine. Then we did several variations on the “warrior” pose, which is essentially one leg bent at 90 degrees, the back leg long and straight. Planks followed (think pushups, except no dropping to the floor). We then worked on our balance with the tree pose (stand on one foot, other placed above the knee) and side-angle poses.

Inversions followed. Randolph gave individual instruction for the inversion. In this class, she kind of concentrated on me, and step by step, I ended up with my feet suspended in the air above my head.

The class ended with about 10 minutes of deep relaxation with directed breathing in Savasana, the corpse pose. While every yoga teacher I’ve ever had often warns us to watch our breath, breathe, keep it regular, Randolph was the first teacher I ever had work us into deep breathing by steps, increasing lengths of inhalations, exhalations and pauses until we were doing the classic ujjayi breathing. And I can tell you, when I hit that spot of real ujjayi breathing, I also fell off into that meditation place where yoga is supposed to take us.

And that made for a very good beginning to a very good day.