Building strength, awareness and harmony in both mind and body through yoga has long been the passion of a Hillsboro woman and her intention is to bring it to the rural countryside of Highland County.
For Kelly Sunny Rae, locating her Naturally by Nature studio north of Hillsboro on SR 73 was the perfect place for what she wanted to bring to women and men of the area, which was a not-for-profit yoga experience that welcomed everyone of any age and was sustained by donations.
“I’ve taken the basic approach to a yoga class and taken it outside,” she said. “The idea is that this will allow everyone to connect with nature, and by stepping off of the yoga mat and onto the earth, it helps to really amplify what we call ‘the grounding effect.’”
She said the idea of teaching free yoga classes supported by donations only came from a conversation with a friend who wanted to be a part of one of her classes at either her Hillsboro or Washington C.H. studio, but simply couldn’t afford it.
The American Osteopathic Association refers to yoga as an approach to wellness that focuses on the body’s natural tendency toward health and self-healing, and that if given the chance, the human body will repair, heal and maintain itself from the most chronic and brutal stresses encountered in every day life.
Rae echoed the AOA’s claims, saying that from a medical standpoint there are many benefits to both young and old alike such as strengthening bone mass through holding the various yoga poses for at least 30 seconds, a reduction in the symptoms of stress which may bring about a reduction in blood pressure issues, and in general a tendency to reduce bouts of anxiety and depression.
Her knowledge and claims concerning the benefits of yoga are not the musings of a novice. She is a certified instructor in its teachings, having completed the required 200-hour course to extend the depth of her practice and to gain a fuller understanding of its dynamics.
She said that there are many misconceptions about yoga, stressing that it’s deeper than what is portrayed on television or in magazines or movies.
“There are a lot of things that yoga has been turned into,” Rae said. “But in essence, yoga means to unite or yoke the mind, body and spirit together, and in the physical practice of stretching the body, the mind relaxes through concentration and controlled breathing, and it just calms you down, brings you back into balance and soothes your soul.”
There have been many criticisms of yoga in the evangelical and medical community, she said, with its detractors dismissing it as nothing more than eastern mysticism or an embracing of the teachings of Buddha.
While not wanting to get into a confrontation over people’s beliefs or prejudices, Rae said a good starting point to teach about yoga would be breath awareness, because “everybody breathes and that’s a universal thing that we all have in common.”
“Breathing is the major anchor for the mind,” she said. “A common ground exercise would be closing your eyes, slowly breathe in and open your fingers, and then when you exhale, close your fingers into a tight fist and link your breathing with that movement — that’s yoga.”
She said those interested in yoga can call her studio for information at 937-402-4908 or email her at firstname.lastname@example.org. Those interested should bring a yoga mat, beach towel, small pillow and water bottle.
Yoga in the Yard classes are scheduled to start at 6 p.m. Sunday, May 5 and run through Aug. 28, with classes expected to last approximately one hour at her studio on SR 73 across from the former Jeff Page greenhouses.
Reach Tim Colliver at 937-402-2571.