Yoga offers peace, serenity

Published 9:57 am Wednesday, October 28, 2015

For those looking for balance, peace and serenity to start their Tuesday and Thursday mornings, Elke Briuer can assist you.

Briuer instructs two hour-long yoga classes starting at 7 and 8:05 a.m. at Purks YMCA. Yoga, as an exercise, incorporates a mixture of meditation, breathing exercises, stretches or poses to relax the individual engaging in the activity. Her students Frances Stuart, Henny Blinka and Barbara Bagley all acknowledged how relaxed and more flexible they feel after finishing a class with Briuer.

A typical class with Briuer holds about a dozen students, although some were absent on Tuesday’s class because of weather concerns. It includes soft, gentle East Asian music and starts with either standing or seated breathing exercises.

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It also involves poses such as the frog, warrior I, extended triangle, pyramid and half moon.

“We start really slow and then go into a push-and-pull type of idea. That’s sort of my approach,” Briuer said. “To bring the upper body up slightly, open up your hips, protect your lower back and protect your knees.”

Bruier’s favorite pose to do with her class is the half moon, which she claims is the best release for a backache.

“In half moon, you’re moving from another pose most likely. It’s a balancing pose. You stand on one leg with the other leg up in the air; you look like a big h,” Bruier said. “Our heads are level with our feet and you stand with your arms like this (one hand on the ground and the other stretched out to the ceiling).”

Another method Briuer teaches her students is how to distribute their body weight on their hands to protect them while in certain poses.

“Most people do everything on their wrist and thumbs. In yoga, I teach for instance if you spread out your fingers then you have the same points like your foot. You can dig your fingers into the ground a take a lot a weight off.”

Before becoming an instructor, she was active in the YMCA’s aerobic class, but was involved in a t-bone car accident, throwing her body out of order. After her accident, she got involved with yoga at the U.S. Army Engineering Research and Development Center and later became an instructor for two years.

Briuer is in her sixth year of teaching yoga and fourth at the YMCA and is certified to teach yoga for a fitness center, which differs from a studio.

“It’s a not your normal yoga. Here I can get anybody who’s a beginner to come in walk in the class and take it,” Bruier said. “My philosophy is to do a yoga stretch that gives you strength and flexibility in your upper body.”