Health and Fitness: Yogic calm amid the storm |

Health and Fitness: Yogic calm amid the storm

Charles Agar
Sky-Hi Daily News
Grand County, Colorado

This tough economy can mean worry, tension and sleeplessness for many. But Margaret Strom, owner and director of Mountain Moon Yoga in Fraser, has a way out.

“Yoga actually lowers the level of the stress hormone cortisol,” she said, referring to what’s been called the “stress hormone,” and Strom said practicing yoga also lowers the blood pressure, heart rate and anxiety, improves digestions, bolsters the immune system and helps with physical pain.

“It’s about being in the present moment,” Strom said. “Yoga really helps you to be more aware and to create better health in your mind and body.”

The practice of yoga is also an important way to make a connection to oneself, she said, something that “the chaos of life just clouds out.”

But for those who feel intimidated by yoga classes, starting some simple exercises at home will be extremely beneficial, she said. And even some basic stretches yield such immediate benefits as more flexibility, better breathing, increased strength, and body awareness.

One important building block exercise in yoga is called the Sun Salutation, or Surya Namaskar, a practice of greeting the sun each morning. The routine usually takes about 5 to 10 minutes, and only requires a yoga mat (see below for detailed instructions or visit for video instruction).

“If someone practices Sun Salutation, their day is going to go a lot better,” Strom said. “It actually activates all the systems in your body.”

“It can be used as a warm-up or as a practice and it is a great all-around exercise,” Strom said, adding that doing the simple series of moves massages internal organs, ventilates the lungs, removing Carbon Dioxide, and stretches the spinal column, enervating the nervous system.

Equally important during this exercise, Strom stressed, is where and how it is conducted. Turn off the phone, the TV ” anything that’s distracting.

“Create an environment, and dedicate time for yourself.”

And most importantly: Breathe. When doing any type of yoga, it is essential to feel your body breathe, or, as Strom puts it, “Connect with your breath.”

Margaret Strom, RYT, is nationally certified. She has a B.A. in Psychology and completed graduate school in Natural Resource Management. She has been teaching yoga for 11 years and uses her knowledge of asana and human physiology to guide students to that place of comfort and peace within their own body.

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