When it comes to sports and fitness, I’ve always gravitated toward fast-paced, messy activities. I love order and tidiness at home and at work, but I view the more active portion of my life as a chance to embrace a little chaos. Muddy field hockey games, sweaty trail runs, salt-water swims — that’s my fitness style. So it’s not all that surprising that, try as I might, I haven’t been able to get into yoga. Yoga can be an excellent workout, but something about the calm, the quiet, and the slower pace makes it a tough sell for someone like me. I’ve tried it in multiple settings — different locations, different teachers, different styles — but I always leave feeling like I missed something vital, something that clicked for everyone else in the class but escaped me. Enter Yoga for Athletes.
Yoga for Athletes is a brand new free fitness class at UVAC, offered Tuesday nights at 6:30 and taught by Tomoko, a great instructor. Although I’m by no means a yogi, I decided to give the class a try in its first week to see if yoga targeted at athletes might be a better fit than the yoga I’d done in the past. As it turned out, it was. The pace of Tomoko’s class built gradually, eventually settling into a flow that was both demanding and rewarding. It held my attention and challenged me to keep up. The poses were a mix of basics that were familiar to me from past yoga experiences — warrior, for instance — and ones I had never encountered before, and that really tested my strength. Muscles that had been neglected by my usual workouts were pleasantly sore the day after class.
Tomoko was encouraging and helpful throughout the class. When my postures needed correction, she was there to guide and assist, and when things clicked into place, her affirmations and enthusiasm were welcome. The class Tomoko is building seems to blend serious stretching and strengthening with a focus on alignment and breathing. After having experienced it, I can easily see how my own athletic practice will benefit from regular attendance. With another spring and summer of distance running ahead of me, I like the idea that I can become more limber, stronger, and efficient in my breathing. I also like Tomoko’s style of teaching, which reminds me of some of the coaches who have had a positive impact on me during a long history of playing sports.
Although I didn’t leave UVAC with grass stains or scraped knees, the workout was easily on par with my toughest forms of exercise. If you’re an athlete looking for effective cross-training — something lower-impact but still guaranteed to push your limits — I highly recommend giving Yoga for Athletes a try. If you’re like me, you’ll walk away feeling the peace and balance that good yoga provides, but right alongside it, the burn and healthy exhaustion of a solid workout.
By Caitlin Birch — UVAC member; Wilder, VT resident; Digital Collections and Oral History Archivist at Dartmouth College