The lights were dimmed and the yoga mats rolled out.
Mythili Chari, yoga teacher at the Hindu Temple of Minnesota in Maple Grove, explained to students that yoga promotes “learning how to be present with everything that arises. It evokes a deep relaxation and cessation of the mind. This is what distinguishes the practice of yoga from an exercise system – it is a way of being.”
Yoga, an integral component of the Hindu religion, is offered free at the temple several times a week to people of all ages, faiths and physical abilities. According to Laurie Karnes, yoga coordinator at the Hindu Temple, “yoga is offered as a way to embrace and welcome the entire community at large.”
Yoga classes usually have between 10 to 25 students who come for a variety of reasons, according to Karnes, to increase flexibility to centering inner peace.
Chari has been practicing for over 30 years, both in India and in the United States, and combines both her personal practice and her formal yoga training in her yoga teaching at the Hindu Temple.
“It gets you back on track and teaches you how you can heal yourself and be in tune with your body,” said Chari, indicating both individual and group yoga sessions are beneficial.
“You need both types of practice," she said. "Home practice helps you figure out what works best for you and how much you can push yourself. Practicing with a group gives you that collective energy, love, and caring. We give each other energy and support and that is really important in healing."
A typical class, such as one attended by Maple Grove Patch, consists of a series of yoga postures over an hour starting with the Sun Salutation, Surya Namaskara in Sanskrit -- a series of twelve positions, each flowing into the next in one continuous movement. This is commonly used this as a warm-up to stretch the students’ spines and limbs.
“It also aids the body by massaging and stimulating the glands, organs, muscles and nerves, of the body, preparing the students for the asansa or yoga postures," Chari stated.
Restorative poses including back-bends, forward-bends, inversions and twists follow the warm-up session. A final relaxation pose ends the session, focused on helping the body “assimilate all the information from class and to make time for a smooth transition in daily life.”
Yoga sessions are 7 to 8 p.m. every Tuesday and Thursday evening and taught by one of 10 different yoga instructors each with their “own unique style of teaching,” according to Karnes. The temple also offers class on 8 a.m. to 9:30 a.m. every Saturday morning with two yoga instructors for both teaching and individual student attention. There is also a class every Sunday from 8 a.m. to 9 a.m.
"The beauty of this is that students have the opportunity to learn from a variety of instructors and determine which instructor best fits their yoga goals,” Karnes said.
Yoga classes are free and require no prior registration. Yoga mats are also available for participants. Yoga instructors assist the classes with adaptations, of the various postures, to meet individual needs and to ensure full participation. Depending on weather, the class is either held indoors or in an outside courtyard.