You now have permission to take care of yourself — by embracing yoga and reaping the rewards for your body, mind and spirit.
That’s the message from Joyce Kilburg, who has been offering yoga instruction at Powerhouse Gym in Diamond Springs for 14 years.
“Yoga is really a lifestyle,” said Kilburg, 64, as she walked lightly toward the yoga exercise area in the huge gym located at 4615 Missouri Flat Road, in the Depot Junction Center. While the fitness center was alive with members working out on all kinds of top-of-the-line equipment, it was noticed that the minimalist gear of yoga — a mat — doesn’t mean the exercise routine is less effective.
Judging by the toned physiques of those showing up for one of Kilburg’s recent classes, it appears that yoga holds the key to complete fitness of its practitioners.
“You know, I’m often asked by those considering yoga whether it will help them lose weight, and I can say yes because once you adopt the yoga lifestyle, it changes your mentality about eating,” said Kilburg. “Yoga addresses the whole body — including mind and spirit — so you’ll simply find that a healthy lifestyle will become natural.”
Kilburg offers two disciplines in yoga, the vinyasa yoga that most people know, where movements concentrate on the muscles and bones, and yin yoga, which is a bit newer in the West.
“Yin yoga goes deeper into the connective tissues, with participants holding some positions for three to five minutes or longer,” the instructor explained. “It is called ‘chi’ in Chinese medicine, and it allows the softening of hard fascia in the body, and opens up the meridians of all the vital organs, allowing the free flow of blood and other fluids.”
Kilburg said most of her students take both classes, although only one type of yoga is offered per session.
Longtime student Patti Nash of Diamond Springs said she plans her day around Kilburg’s yoga classes.
“I suffered a herniated disc when I was in my early 20s,” she said. “I’m 57 now, and Joyce is my best friend. Yoga is for the mind, body, spirit and soul and I credit it with helping my health. I plan my entire life schedule around the classes.”
Placerville resident Kathleen Fifer, formerly a competition swimmer in the Bay Area, was run over by a recycling truck in 1992 and as a result had to have both knees replaced between 2008 and 2010. She said if not for yoga, she doubts she would even be walking today.
“If it weren’t for the yoga teachers, especially Joyce, I doubt I would be able to continue my progress. I never gave up, and I continue to rely on yoga to this day,” said the 54-year-old as she unfurled her exercise mat in preparation for a session.
Frankie Lehner, 47, of Mt. Aukum joined the others in the yoga venue, tucked into the south corner of Powerhouse Gym, and said she has enjoyed coming to Kilburg’s classes for more than a decade. Asked why she chooses yoga as her exercise regimen, Lehner replied, “Ahhh … it is simply life changing. I couldn’t touch my toes before I started, and now I can. It makes me so much more flexible and I find that when I come into class in a bad mood, I leave feeling better. It’s just great, all around.”
Members also include men, with Brian Baker of Camino explaining that he has been “doing yoga off and on for years.”
“I broke my back when I was 13,” said Baker, 40. “Yoga is the only thing that helps me stay in alignment. It helps in several ways; the whole discipline of mind, body and spirit helps me stay balanced.”
Diamond Springs resident Bill Vernor, 72, has been attending Kilburg’s classes for about six years, and he agreed that the discipline helps him stay centered. He added that there are other benefits as well.
“It takes away my stress,” he said. “The classes not only improve my flexibility and strength, but they are totally energizing.”
Kilburg, who said she “got into the depths of yoga” 15 to 20 years ago, credits her longevity and loyal clientele to the fact that she loves people and she loves yoga.
“I tell people to ‘listen to your body first and to me second,’” she explained. “I teach them to know the difference between pain and discomfort, and if you teach properly, this is something they can do, with wonderful benefits, for the rest of their lives.”
As people age, it is vital that they continue stretching and moving, working the body to keep it supple and healthy, she said.
“Eighty percent of the population has back problems,” Kilburg said. “Yoga keeps them mobile, moving. When you hurt, the tendency is to keep the painful area still, don’t move. That’s the worst thing you can do, because it causes the body to tighten, and the connective tissues and fascia become harder and harder. You’ve got to pace yourself, but you need to have movement, to let the body lubricate itself and get the fluids flowing.”
Kilburg stresses allowing yoga participants to decide when they are pushing themselves too far.
“I let people give themselves permission to rest, to take care of their body.”
She, herself, plans a personal respite as she will travel to India in February to trace the steps of her yoga guru, Parahamsa Yogananda, on a journey of body and soul.
If you’re ready to spread your mat — and your wings — with yoga, call 530-626-3488.