I could stay in child’s pose forever. I could also take a savasana daily which is basically naptime for grown-ups. These are a few of my favorite things about yoga.
I’ve been taking the occasional yoga class for about five years. I’ve come to think of each class as an inexpensive massage. The same peaceful euphoria you feel after a massage is similar to the feeling you achieve after a yoga class. Relaxed, reset and balanced — something all moms and dads could benefit from.
On one particular Saturday morning, I was not feeling so peaceful. After hustling through breakfast, breakfast cleanup and getting myself then my son (and husband) ready for their morning on their own, I raced down Race Street to get to Amara Yoga & Arts in Urbana at 300 S. Broadway Ave. Orange and white barricades soon told me that I had to take the long way. OK, no problem. I’ll get there right as class is starting. When I reached Lincoln Square Mall that houses Amara, I remembered the Urbana’s Market at the Square was in full swing. I circled the parking lot until I found a space. Now we have a problem as class had started. Thankfully, a nice yogi opened the door for me. The doors are typically locked at the start of each class.
This particular class was jam packed! I grabbed a mat and blocks (which Amara supplies) and tried to find a spot to set up. All eyes on me. I am the jerk who is late and disrupting everyone’s serenity. Luckily, I was saved by another nice yogi who moved her mat over so I could scrunch in.
Yoga Fundamentals is a low to moderate intensity class for introductory/beginning yogis. Each class on the website has a suggested type and level so you know which one best fits your yoga comfort level. There were men and women yogis of all ages, sizes and athletic abilities. You will not be judged on your athleticism here. No one is looking to see how high your hips get in downward-facing dog or how straight your arms are in warrior II. During a class the focus turns inward on your breathing and the need to quiet your mind while focusing on the practice you are participating in.
Shortly after I walked in, the light blue walls and humming ceiling fans began to slow me down, slow my thoughts down and slow my breathing down. Throughout the class our instructor would carefully explain how to setup each pose properly. She used terms that were easy to visualize: “heart center,” “eye of the elbow,” and “sit bones” were often used to describe the chest, inner elbow and butt. After the pose was arranged properly, the class would move through a short sequence using that pose. The instructor took the time to check everyone’s positioning and tweak their alignment or posture if it was needed.
Some of the lower back poses made me unabashedly sigh. “Ahhhhhhhhhhhhhhh.” They felt so good, like I had just released the week’s buildup. Bills, errands, traffic, barking dog, poopy Pull-Ups, slow internet connection, flat tire — peace out! My knees and ankles popped, my muscles softened and my spine lengthened in relief.
It’s not often moms and dads do something for themselves. More often than not, their focus, time and resources go toward their children. Amara’s continuous schedule of classes throughout the day, seven days a week, makes it easy to make it to a class. Amara recently eliminated another barrier for you: child care.
Amara co-founder and art director Kathryn Fitzgerald believes the studio (and yoga in general) is for everyone. This philosophy is one of the reasons she has developed robust programming for children at Amara. In addition to summer camps, Kathryn has added two new classes to the roster at Amara. Beginning Sept. 8, Amara will offer a yoga/art class for kids and tweens/teens. The idea is simple and convenient — drop your kids off at whichever child-oriented class is most appropriate for their age and you simultaneously take a class of your own next door.
Amara has expanded into the former Great Impasta space next door. This growth in space provides them the opportunity to expand their class offerings benefiting both you and your children.
“It’s so important for parents to de-stress. Parents are always taking care of everyone else before themselves. If you are too stressed out as a parent it’s not good for the kids either,” Fitzgerald said.
The kids yoga class is for ages 4 to 11 on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 4-4:45 p.m. followed by a separate art component from 4:45-5:30 p.m. The tweens/teens yoga class is for ages 10 to 15 on Sundays from noon-12:45 p.m. followed by a separate art component from 12:45-1:30 p.m. This synchronized timing gives parents the opportunity to take a class and then socialize with others over a cup of tea while their kids are having a blast in the new studio.
And they will have a blast! There’s a reason some poses are called “happy baby” and “child’s pose.” Kids have an inherent flexibility that most adults simply lose with age.
“Kids are brave, courageous and are willing to try anything,” Fitzgerald said.
The younger set will focus more on play-based yoga, while the older set will practice more advanced poses with a greater emphasis on meditation.
“Everyone in the family can leave calm and relaxed,” Fitzgerald said.
One of the goals of the parallel sessions is to provide the families with more common ground. After the classes, the participating family can teach each other what they learned and practice proper breathing techniques and meditation at home.
You can drop in or preregister online for all classes. There are many payment options available. You can buy multiple-class passes or single-class passes. Basically, the more classes you commit to, the cheaper they will be. One class for kids ranges from $14 to $16. One regular yoga class is $17 or you can buy a monthly membership for $79 (other payment packages are available).
Emily Harrington is a Chambana townie that left her 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. job to be a 24/7 mom to a dreamy son. Still interested in writing, Emily uses some of naptime to practice her passion and keep her mind right. Emily is a happy wife with a happy life because she fell for a fellow townie. Oh, and let’s not forget her other son, a degenerate canine named Heppenheimer.