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Natural Awakenings Naples and Fort Myers

Health Benefits of Yoga: Perspectives from Naples Area Yoga Teachers

Aug 29, 2014 08:50AM ● By Linda Sechrist

Meredith Musick

September is National Yoga Month. The observance was designated by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services to educate the general public about the health benefits of yoga and to inspire a healthy lifestyle. In 2008, thousands of yoga and health enthusiasts participated in a 10-city Yoga Health Festival tour that featured yoga classes, lectures, music, entertainment and exhibits. Coordinated by the nonprofit Yoga Health Foundation, what began as a grassroots, community-based awareness campaign has taken root as a global awareness initiative, educating, inspiring and motivating individuals to achieve a healthy lifestyle.

Today, more than 70 million Americans suffer from one or more types of cardiovascular disease, and arthritis is the nation’s leading cause of disability. Obesity rates in the U.S. have reached epidemic proportions: 58 million people are overweight and 40 million are obese. Approximately 72 million Americans age 20 and older have high blood pressure. In numerous trials done for research purposes, yoga has had an impact on each of these health challenges.

Now recognized for its profound health benefits, yoga classes are offered as a regular, on-site employee benefit at companies such as Nike, HBO, Forbes and Apple. Additionally, some health insurance providers now offer coverage or discount access to a national network of practitioners of such wellness arts as yoga, chiropractic, acupuncture, massage/bodywork and mind/body relaxation techniques.

To celebrate National Yoga Month, Natural Awakenings asked the owners of 10 local yoga studios to submit photos of themselves in their favorite yoga postures and to describe the health benefits offered by the pose.

Meredith Musick

Private studio in Naples

One-Legged Bridge Pose

“I particularly enjoy this pose because it is so nourishing to the kidneys and the heart while stretching the shoulders, triceps and entire spine. The further towards the heart the hands can be placed, requiring a lot of wrist flexibility, the more tonifying effect this asana has on the cardiovascular and respiratory systems.”

Meredith Musick, an experienced registered yoga teacher (ERYT-500) and licensed massage therapist who teaches yoga at her studio and at the Yoga Loft, focuses on alignment based on the Iyengar tradition in all levels of hatha yoga, as well as gentle and therapeutic yoga. She also specializes in using the Great Yoga Wall, a system of support-based poses including traction for the spine. Rehabilitation of injuries is one of Musick’s specialties.

Patricia Wilborn

Gyrotonic of Naples, LLC
3415 Radio Rd. Ste. 104, Naples

Triangle Pose

“I feel good in this pose because of the twist to my torso, which helps to keep me flexible and counteracts any tightness from forward-facing exercises such as running and biking. The full-body stretch is also a great stress reliever.”

Instructors at Wilborn’s studio teach a variety of movement classes, including hatha, raja and aerial yoga, Pilates, Gyrokinesis and stability.

Emilie Bromley

Emilie Bromley, LLC
1199 1st Ave. S., Naples


“I especially like this antigravity variation of the chandelier pose. While I particularly like the inversion, other desirable aspects are the support I receive from the hammock in extension and the hip opener.”

Bromley’s boutique fitness studio emphasizes core training. She pioneers a blend of methods, which keep the body moving efficiently without strain or injury.

Jacqueline Glasgow

Naples Yoga Center
13240 Tamiami Trail N., Ste. 206, Naples

Camel Pose

This heart-opening pose makes me feel energized, powerful and open to anything that comes my way. A simple and safe way to open up the entire front of my body, it also relieves backaches and improves flexibility in the neck and spine. By stretching the abdominal organs, Camel helps with constipation. It also stretches the throat as well as the thyroid and parathyroid glands.

Diversity is at the heart of the Naples Yoga Center philosophy, which welcomes all schools of yoga and promises yoga for everyone and every body type. Classes include power vinyasa, hot, ashtanga, Forrest, Budokon, restorative, gentle, Iyengar, hatha and stand up paddleboard.

Amy Lucky

Yoga Loft Naples @ Mercato
9123 Strada Place, Ste. 7115, Naples

Wide-Legged Forward Fold

“I love this posture because of all it has taught me about being patient with my progress in this and every asana. Another lesson of this posture is the ability to bring the hands overhead all the way to the floor, which requires relaxation as much as flexibility and strength. This is the key to all of yoga; we progress our practice through breath and ease, rather than grasping and tension.”

Michael Schaeffer

Yoga Loft Naples @ Mercato

Upward-Facing Rooster

“This posture is special to me because it requires trust in a solid foundation of the hands, steady arms and a stable core. Our ability to take flight in this and every posture comes from the willingness to trust in our foundation, in our body and in our breath.”

Yoga Loft Naples at the Mercato focuses on the student experience by providing a skilled team of yoga instructors for classes of all levels of vinyasa yoga.

Jamie Shane

Bija Yoga
1250 Tamiami Trail N., Naples

Headstand Prep

“I like to practice and teach this headstand prep, as it exerts less pressure on the neck than full headstand. It also creates deep core training.”

Bija Yoga is the longest continuously running yoga studio in Naples. Now celebrating 10 years, the studio focuses on creating space for every level of practitioner to experience the physical, mental and spiritual aspects of yoga. Bija Yoga teaches hatha and kundalini yoga.

Carla Olla

Love Yoga Center
4949 Tamiami Trail N., Ste. 204, Naples

Lotus Pose

“This pose is one of my favorites because it is such a classic, and it’s a wonderful pose for sitting in meditation.”

Love Yoga Center offers classes for all levels of practitioners from beginners to advanced. The main influence is Jivamukti, which is a style of yoga developed by Olla’s teachers, Sharon Gannon and David Life. Classes include basics, mixed level vinyasa flow, gentle flow, restorative and Love Rocks!, which features a playlist of fun upbeat rock songs and challenging asanas.

Kiersten Mooney

Bala Vinyasa
6200 Trail Blvd., Naples


“I am as challenged by this pose as much today as when I began practicing. It reminds me that my practice is just ‘a practice’—a mountain with no top. Every day, I pull challenges to me so I have greater access to flow through those that I don’t choose. This pose reminds me that I can create ease in the face of adversity and that at any moment I can choose to enjoy what I am doing. I do not need to wait for someone or something to bring my joy to life; it is up to me.”

Bala Vinyasa is a Baptiste Affiliated Studio that offers teacher training and classes to inspire students to take what they learn and experience on their mats into their daily lives. A group of certified yoga teachers instruct power vinyasa yoga classes for all levels, taught in the Baptiste style. Other classes offered are slow flow restorative, gentle, prenatal, kids, hatha levels 1, 2 and 3 and therapeutic. They also offer yoga for special needs populations, such as epilepsy, autism and those in addiction recovery.

Lauren Romero

Mpower Studio
Mindy Sylvester, Owner
2800 David Blvd., Ste. 100, Naples

Wide-Seated Forward Bend

“I appreciate the wide-seated forward bend because I play a lot of tennis and it really helps stretch and loosen hips and hamstrings, the muscles that get tight if you play a lot of tennis or golf; it relieves low back pain. The pose stimulates the abdominal organs, strengthens the spine and releases groins.”

Mpower, which offers yoga and barre classes, integrates health, fitness, well-being, personal development and business development to provide an inspirational environment where individuals can pursue their personal best. Barre classes are fun, fast-paced workouts that strengthen and tone the entire body.

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