Literally bending over backwards
First Lts. Heather Severt, left foreground, and Zachary Baker, right background, perform back bends during power yoga instruction at USAG Ansbach's Katterbach Physical Fitness Center Aug. 6 as Capt. Tirzah Eskew, the class's instructor, assists Severt.

ANSBACH, Germany (Aug. 8, 2013) -- The participants have their backs on their mats. Gentle music plays in the softly lit, vaulted racquetball court. The slow, calming chords are in stark contrast to the difficult maneuvers the participants perform. Their knees are up and perpendicular with feet still on the mat. The hands are beneath their shoulder, palms down on the mat, elbows in the air, forearms beside their ears. Slowly they push up with their arms, lifting their backs off the mat. Soon they are arching backwards in strenuous mimicry of an arch bridge. If they can -- but most don't -- the participants raise a leg into the air.

This is the cost-free power yoga class led by Capt. Tirzah Eskew Tuesdays at U.S. Army Garrison Ansbach's Katterbach Physical Fitness Center. The move is called a back bend and is one of many moves the class performs during a typical session.

"[Power yoga] combines the benefits of getting your heart rate up at the same time as doing all the poses," said Eskew. "Yoga in general is supposed to be very meditative, depending on what type you do. If you go to hatha yoga or bikram yoga, you'll still get a very aerobic exercise, but some yoga classes are a lot slower [and don't have] as many difficult poses."

Because of the difficulty of the class, Eskew teaches the students a few of the rest poses in case a pose or maneuver becomes too much of a strain.

"I give a disclaimer to stop when your body tells you to stop because the poses are more difficult than normal," she said.

People join the class for different reasons.

Eva Bechteler, who works with the garrison's legal office, has been with the class since its inception in February.

"I like this class because it's workout yoga," said Bechteler. "It's not too calm, though there is some relaxing at the end I enjoy. But it's very active, more like a workout and not meditation."

Chief Warrant Officer 2 Joseph VanDamme has been with the class for five sessions and said he has noticed an improvement in his flexibility.

"I think my core strength has improved a bit as well, and I'm working muscle groups in combinations I wouldn't usually work them," said VanDamme. "I've had chronic hamstring issues for a couple years now, and I've noticed subtle improvements to how my hamstrings feel."

"Some people come to get in better shape because you do get pretty toned doing any type of yoga just from being able to hold those poses and keep those muscles engaged for long periods of time," said Eskew. "Runners benefit hugely from yoga, just to get that deep stretch to lengthen their muscles. You can do anything with yoga."

Eskew encourages the use of her class as a supplement to other physical workouts.

"I use it as a supplement to all my other workouts because it does help keep you limber, which helps with lessening sports injuries," she said. "If nothing else, people should incorporate yoga with whatever they are doing, instead of looking for something to do in addition to yoga."

The class's participants derive different levels of enjoyment from the workout as well. During the class VanDamme finds little fulfillment.

"Like most other workouts, I enjoy the feeling afterwards," said VanDamme. "The overall sense of well-being during the activity, not so much."

Bechteler is positive about the experience.

"I love it," said Bechteler. "I love [Eskew's] yoga style. It's a great workout. … I try to get my coworkers to come."

To learn more about power yoga or any other class the USAG Ansbach physical fitness centers host, call 09802-83-2771 or DSN 467-2771.

Page last updated Thu August 8th, 2013 at 00:00