Amid the global recognition of the International Day of Yoga on June 21, the local yoga community in Eden Prairie has emerged as a vibrant and thriving hub for enthusiasts seeking physical and mental well-being.
In his address to the United Nations General Assembly in 2014, India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi proposed a resolution to designate June 21, the summer solstice, as the International Day of Yoga. The resolution received support from 177 member countries. The inaugural celebrations took place on June 21, 2015.
Yoga at the community center
Megan Munoz, the recreation supervisor for fitness at Eden Prairie Community Center (EPCC), said that EPCC offers a diverse range of programs, including both traditional yoga and innovative yoga-inspired health and wellness options.
Yoga classes are available for all ages, with options starting at 6 a.m. for early risers, as well as mid-morning and evening sessions to accommodate different preferences.
Munoz said EPCC yoga instructors leverage their expertise, offering a variety of styles such as Vinyasa flow and restorative yoga. They prioritize individualized attention and collaborate closely with students to tailor the classes according to their specific needs.
Another yoga class offered is called SilverSneakers Yoga. Although designed for seniors, the program is open to all. Classes are well attended and include participants recovering from injuries as part of physical therapy. A chair is used for some of the movements as a tool for balance.
Munoz highlighted the broader benefits of yoga, extending beyond physical exercise, by referring to Body Balance — a Les Mills format that combines yoga, Pilates, and tai chi. Les Mills, an international organization specializing in diverse fitness routines, provided training to the center’s instructors.
Personal training with a yoga trainer is also available. Some of the personal trainers at EPCC are experienced yoga instructors who can incorporate yoga-specific work/training into their sessions.
Stretch Studio is another option at EPCC. It entails assisted dynamic stretching, offering benefits similar to yoga but not directly related to it.
Each individual works one-on-one with a stretch specialist who leads them through a series of intentional stretches and flexibility training. The specialist advises on when and how to contract or relax muscles for maximum stretching benefit. The stretches are customized to individual needs and goals.
There are many group fitness activities available at EPCC to explore. These classes are offered several times a week with various class times and are free for members. Non-members may attend for a nominal fee of $10. Participants should be 14 or older, while 12- to 13-year-olds may attend if accompanied by a parent
EPCC also offers free yoga classes during the summer. The program is called Fitness in the Parks. EPCC instructors hold classes at the Staring Lake Amphitheatre throughout the week. These classes are family-friendly and can be attended by people of all ages and fitness levels.
Yoga classes offered at Fitness in the Parks include Family Yoga on Mondays at 9:30 am and Body Balance on Thursdays at 9:30 am. Yoga mats are available for borrowing, although many participants prefer to bring their own. These classes are listed on the group fitness schedule.
An instructor’s insights on yoga
After completing his sculpting class, Luke Fitzgerald, an instructor at CorePower Yoga in Eden Prairie, shared his perspective on yoga.
In 2009, he began practicing yoga with the initial goal of losing weight. “I was motivated by my own transformation,” Fitzgerald said.
Two years later, he made the decision to become a yoga instructor and share his experience with others. During this journey, his peers played a significant role in helping him realign his priorities.
“There was a community that helped me just kind of tap into what I needed at the time,” he said.
Despite juggling a demanding full-time corporate job and caring for a toddler at home, Fitzgerald remains dedicated to yoga. He describes teaching yoga as a fulfilling side job that brings him immense joy.
He has taught over 1,000 classes over his 12 years as a yoga instructor, with an average class size of 20. As a result, he has likely taught about 20,000 students. He has been with CorePower Yoga since 2016.
Referring to the philosophical aspects of yoga, namely the mind, body, and soul, Fitzgerald finds in it a constant reminder of “how I treat myself, and yes, how I impact the universe.”
He has a message for today’s youth: “Take care of yourselves as well as you can.”
The ancient roots of yoga
Yoga has its roots in the ancient traditions and philosophies of the Indian subcontinent. Its origins can be traced back thousands of years to the Indus Valley Civilization, which existed around 3000 BCE.
The earliest known evidence of yoga comes from the ancient Indus Valley seals, which depict figures in various yoga-like postures. These seals suggest that yoga was an integral part of the culture and spiritual practices of that time.
The philosophical foundations of yoga were furthered in the Vedic period, around 1500 BCE. The Vedas, a collection of ancient scriptures, contain hymns, rituals, and philosophical teachings that influenced the development of yoga.
During the classical period of Indian history, around 500 BCE, several influential texts emerged, establishing the foundation for yoga as a structured discipline. Among these texts, the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali hold particular significance, as they systematized the philosophy and practices of yoga. Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras encompass a wide range of elements, including ethical principles, physical postures (asanas), breath control (pranayama), meditation, and higher states of consciousness. For those seeking a deeper understanding of Patanjali’s teachings, numerous books are available to delve into the profound wisdom they offer.
It is important to note that yoga was not just a physical discipline but also a spiritual and philosophical path. It aimed to integrate body, mind, and spirit, and its ultimate goal was self-realization and liberation from suffering.
Today, yoga has become a global phenomenon, with millions of people practicing it for various reasons, including physical fitness, stress reduction, and spiritual growth. While it has evolved and adapted over time, the ancient roots of yoga continue to shape its core principles and practices.
Modi led the global celebration of yoga on June 21 at the United Nations in New York.
A famous Sanskrit quote from the ancient Rigveda, “Yoga for Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam” was the theme for this year’s International Yoga Day 2023. It captures shared aspiration for “one earth, one family, and one future.”
Editor’s note: Vijay Dixit is the Chairman of Shreya R. Dixit Memorial Foundation, a 501-c-3 nonprofit advocating distraction-free driving. He is also a board member of Eden Prairie Local News and a member of the EPLN Development Committee and journalism team.
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