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Yoga party

Monday, November 25, 2002

Popular instructors return to Storm Lake from Japan

A former Storm Lake resident is set to return home from Japan in January to teach a popular yoga class for the second straight year, to help residents learn how to strengthen the physical and mental aspects of the body through meditation, breathing exercises and a variety of stretching poses.

Molly Hakes and husband Nobuhiro Watanabe were invited by Community Education officials to teach the beginning yoga class at the Storm Lake Middle School again this year after witnessing a enthusiastic response to the first course, and Pat Cowan of Community Education said organizers are predicting a strong response.

"Last year we had people on a waiting list, and we had two classes," Cowan said. "The response was fantastic last year, so people should sign up as quickly as they can in order to make sure they are in the class."

Enrollment will be limited to 15-20 people for each session, ensuring a small-enough number for Hakes and Watanabe to teach the course effectively and smoothly. The class is designed for beginners, but Cowan said Hakes and Watanabe will welcome those who participated last year. She also said the pair is enthusiastic about the opportunity.

"They were really excited," Cowan said. "It's a big part of their lifestyle and they're happy to be able to come back and teach it to people in Storm Lake."

Both courses will take place on Saturday, Jan. 11 and Jan. 18, but will be held in the Storm Lake Middle School multi- purpose room on different times on both days. The first class will run from 10-11:30 a.m., while the second course will take place from 3:30-5 p.m. The registration deadline for the $25 course will be Tuesday, Jan. 7.

The class will follow the same format as last year, as Hakes and Watanabe will teach each of the participants the basic tenets of yoga, a combination of physical exercise and philosophy which is not a religion in and of itself. The most predominant practitioners of yoga follow Eastern religions such as Shintoism, Buddhism and Hinduism, but yoga is practiced by people of all faiths around the globe.

Believed to be at least 6,000 years old, the major goal of yoga philosophy is to come to a complete understanding of oneself, known as "Samadhi." This knowledge of oneself is then believed to allow those who practice yoga to come to terms with their personalities and put mind and emotions in order.

Nearly all styles of yoga are rooted in hatha yoga, a physical discipline that focuses on developing control of the body through a variety of "asanas" (poses) that include the "dead-man pose," the "lion pose," "the mountain pose" and the "cobra pose." All of the positions are designed to spark healthy responses from the human body, including an elongation of the spine for proper alignment of the vertebrae, an increase in lung capacity and a reduction of stress on muscles found in the eyes, shoulders and legs.

In addition to the physical aspects of yoga, the practice also aims to sooth the mind, something Hakes, a 1992 Storm Lake High School graduate, said was very important.

"Yoga brings you into the present and it takes your mind off the worries of the day," Hakes said. "A lot of it is focusing on breathing correctly, and when you've got your total attention on that, it lets you get away from the stresses of everyday life. That's probably one of the biggest positives to practicing yoga. It's very soothing."

Hakes has been teaching yoga for four years and Watanabe has been practicing and instructing for more than 11 years. Both now lead yoga classes in Japan, where they reside.

Those wishing to sign up should contact the Community Education office at 732-5711.

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