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Released January 13, 2004


HATTIESBURG - Although celebrities like Madonna and Sting have touted yoga's therapeutic qualities for years, the ancient exercise isn't just for the rich and famous anymore.

Starting next week, students, faculty and staff of The University of Southern Mississippi can begin classes in Kripalu yoga at the Payne Center. The classes are also open to the public and are held in the evenings to accommodate busy work schedules.

"Kripalu yoga is designed to educate you of your mind and body's needs in order to achieve and maintain good physical, mental and spiritual health," said Southern Miss Fitness Coordinator Jackie Lebeau.

Benefits of Kripalu yoga include stress relief, improved balance, increased energy, strength and flexibility. Two versions of Kripalu yoga are being offered - the basic and the vigorous variety.

Each session will consist of eight classes, and each week participants will work on postures, breathing and relaxation. About 20 postures will be presented over the course of each eight-week period. Taught by licensed Kripalu yoga instructor Melissa Reid, the course offers hands-on assistance to encourage optimal alignment and enhanced learning.

Basic Kripalu classes, which start Jan. 20 and run through March 9, are recommended for individuals who are new to yoga and enjoy a gentler and slower-paced workout. These weekly Tuesday classes last for one hour, starting at 7 p.m. A second eight-week basic session will run from March 25-May 13.

Vigorous Kripalu classes, which start Jan. 22 and run through March 11, will move at a more rapid pace, will hold postures longer and may cover more advanced postures than those learned in the basic class. These weekly Thursday classes also last one hour, from 7-8 p.m. A second eight-week vigorous session will run from March 23-May 11.

Both classes are taught by Reid, who has been a licensed instructor for three years. She received her certification from the Kripalu Center for Yoga and Health.

Although yoga has been practiced for more than a thousands years in eastern cultures, its swelling popularity in this country is more recent. "I think it appeals to people who concerned with the mind-body connection," said Stacey Ready, assistant director of public relations for the Department of Recreational Sports."Today, people are thinking more holistically. They are thinking of their bodies not just in a physical sense, but from and emotional and mental standpoint as well. I think they are trying to find an exercise that addresses their entire physical well-being, and not just what you see in the mirror. Yoga addresses that all at the same time, leaving you feeling both relaxed and energized," Ready said.

Reid said many people are familiar with the term yoga, but not Kripalu yoga. She explained that yoga, like many martial arts, have different styles or disciplines. "Kripalu is a nice synthesis of the different styles. It allows you to modify your yoga postures as you need without being boring. You're still able to get a good workout," Reid said.

Contrary to popular misconception, yoga is not a religion, Reid said, although it does incorporate some meditative practices. However, this meditation -which focuses on breathing techniques -- is intended to relax and alleviate stress.

"You can definitely get out of yoga what you put into it," she continued. "As far as one's home practice, you can add an element of meditation. It is a much more reflective practice than say step-aerobics. I like to call it meditation with movement."

Registration fees are $32 per eight-class session for members of the Payne Center and $48 for non-members. Minimum attendance for each session is 10 participants. Maximum attendance is 35 participants, after which, names will go on a waiting list for notification of available space.

For more information on how to register for Kripalu yoga classes, contact Jackie Lebeau at (601) 266-5930.


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April 20, 2004 4:09 PM