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Fitness through yoga

By Staff
Practice designed to improve body and mind
Tracy B. Cieniewicz, Hartselle Enquirer
A mat, a towel and an open mind are the only requirements to begin practicing the age-old mind and body science of yoga as classes begin throughout Hartselle this fall.
Cat Jackson, certified yoga instructor, moved from New York City to Hartselle four months ago to be near her family in Hartselle and Decatur, as well as share her love for yoga with her new community. She plans to teach beginning yoga classes at Sparkman Civic Center, Chappell's Family Karate, Hartselle Medical Center's Senior Circle, and Decatur City Schools Community Education.
"I have been practicing yoga for six years and became a certified instructor one year ago," Jackson recalled. "I have seen how yoga can improve your quality of life, especially for people who feel like they can't exercise. Yoga welcomes all with open arms, regardless of age, size, religion or social/economic background."
Jackson describes yoga as a "moving prayer," an exercise that allows a person to become aware of their body, center themselves mentally and physically, de-stress, find peace and break a sweat.
"It's definitely not an airy-fairy class," Jackson said with a laugh. "It's a mind/body science and absolutely not a religion, which many people have asked me about, because there is no religious connection to yoga. The basics that I will be teaching focus on form and the fundamentals of breathing. Come to a class if you don't think it's hard. You'll definitely break a sweat."
Jackson said her students will practice traditional yoga poses learning each posture with integrity and correct alignment.
"It's yoga practice not yoga perfect," Jackson explained. "There are basic to extreme poses, but yoga is not restrictive or intimidating. You always have room to grow in the practice."
Jackson said students in her beginning yoga classes should be at least age 15, in fair to good shape, and able to comfortably move to and from the floor. Senior classes will be primarily chair-based and use props and supports instead of floor work. The classes are open to men and women and Jackson said yoga is an excellent means for athletes to bring their muscles into balance.
"At the first class, students can expect to laugh at me and at themselves," Jackson said. "They can expect to feel relaxed and exhausted, break a sweat, and look forward to the next class. As you continue to practice yoga, you'll feel a deep appreciation for your body, no matter what the scales or mirror say. You'll see improvements in your metabolism, sleep, stress management and breathing. It's a great way to honor yourself."
Students should wear loose, comfortable clothing and bring a yoga mat (available for purchase at most athletic and major discount retailers) and a towel. Classes range in price from $5 to $7 per visit, depending on the location of the class.
Jackson is currently renovating a historic home on Peach Orchard Road, known to neighbors as "The Castle," which will be her home and private yoga studio.
"It's my wonderful little magical place," Jackson explained. "The house just has a very enchanted feeling, so it's like creating a little dream for myself." For more information on yoga classes in the Hartselle area, call Cat Jackson at 256-251-0920.