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Yoga is for EVERY BODY!


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Want to quiet your mind, relieve stress? Try yoga

Posted by Emily Gareis on April 11, 2011 at 11:49 PM Comments comments (0) / Kevin Whitlock

Registered yoga teacher Emily Gareis leads a class of chair yoga at the Northwest Stark Senior Center.

 By Erin Putsa staff writer

Posted Apr 10, 2011 @ 07:00 AM

In the middle of life’s most overwhelming moments, there is always Om.

Sweet Om.

All across Stark County, recreation centers, YMCAs and hospitals offer yoga classes with the aim of creating stronger, healthier communities.

It’s no wonder why.

According to a study presented at the annual meeting of the American College of Cardiology last week, those who regularly practice yoga could be reducing their risk of stroke.

Study author Dhanunjaya Lakkireddy, an associate professor with the University of Kansas Hospital explained that study participants who had atrial fibrillation — irregular, often rapid heartbeat — and participated in yoga for 45 minutes three days a week saw the number of episodes of atrial fibrillation drop by half.

Canal Fulton resident Emily Gareis, for one, believes it. Gareis, a registered yoga teacher and owner of Earth Yoga, will be among the first to say that the regular practice of yoga has changed her life for the better.


“In the meditation of yoga, you let go of all your little baggage. When you do that, even for just 30 seconds, it is refreshing,” Gareis said. “It has helped me, not only mentally, but it helped me physically.”

Learning to let go of her concerns and fears pulled Gareis through some of her toughest times.

In 2006, Gareis was caring for her husband who was right in the middle of a battle with cancer.

“He had major surgery and was recuperating,” Gareis said, “and I was in a car accident — hit head on by someone. Suddenly, I wasn’t just dealing with the mental stress of what my husband was dealing with, I couldn’t move my legs.”

The movements of yoga helped to her strengthen her muscles and regain her balance — enough to give her the confidence and belief that she could make a full recovery.

“Yoga has given me back a sense of balance. I still use a cane, but I have confidence,” Gareis said. “I can go outside and be OK if the weather is not too hot. It’s given me a sense of peace in that regard.”

Those moments of quiet where she could let go of her concerns and worries gave her the mental strength she needed to come through every obstacle.


The benefits of yoga are widespread. So much so that people of all ages and abilities are finding themselves benefiting from the regular practice of yoga.

“You think of yoga and you often think of some guy with a very long beard in some funky pose,” Gareis said. “If you don’t think of that, you may think of the starlets walking down the street with their little dogs. Rarely do you think that the person doing yoga is your neighbor, the boy next door or the football player. But those are the people doing yoga.”

Allen J. Rovner M.D., an Aultman-affiliated radiologist with Radiology Associates of Canton, is one of those you may least expect to be practicing yoga. After surviving a stroke five years ago, Rovner turned to yoga as a complementary exercise to help maintain flexibility and fitness.

“I’ve exercised for many years and after having a stroke, I realized I needed to be agile and limber and needed to have a very good sense of balance,” Rovner said. “That’s when I thought about yoga.”

Rovner works regularly with Bob Goerke, a registered yoga teacher who teaches classes through Aultman PrimeTime. After several sessions with Goerke, Rovner noticed marked differences in flexibility and movement.

He also discovered it was the perfect stress reliever.

“One of the things about yoga,” Rovner said, “is that you can take a short break from work and do some yoga stretches and that’s enough.”

Gareis gets that.

“Part of the yoga experience is that you quiet your mind,” Gareis said. “You may get into a situation when you are overwhelmed and all of the sudden you realize you can take a deep breath and let go.”


Robert M. Felden, D.O. medical director of the Aultman Center for Pain Management, doesn’t practice yoga, but he has seen how it has benefited patients.

“It does increase flexibility and strength and improves posture,” Felden said. “It will also reduce heart rates, which reduces blood pressure and reduces the risk of stroke and heart disease.”

Although Felden doesn’t recommend it as a replacement for traditional medical treatments, he does believe that yoga can be an excellent complementary therapy. Often, patients are encouraged to try yoga to help reduce blood pressure, relieve stiffness or improve flexibility.

“A lot of those patients are already on a lot of medications that may have a lot of side effects,” Felden said. “This is a way to promote good health and reduce stress without the use of additional medication and that is a big plus for some patients.”

Age and ability doesn’t determine who can participate in or benefit from yoga.

Gareis, who teaches classes in the area, leads a regular chair yoga class at the Northwest Senior Center. It’s designed specifically for folks who may be limited in their range of motion, so the movements are soft and mild. There’s no crazy, twisted positions here.

And those who come back week after week see the benefits of the gentle yoga.

“It’s not something that happens overnight,” Gareis said, “but the little things go a long way. They notice when they go to stretch for something in cupboard that it’s a little easier.”

Goerke teaches regular yoga classes through Aultman’s PrimeTime program that geared specifically to senior citizens, but he also teaches classes at fitness facilities around the area and at the Massillon Recreation Center.

There’s certainly a reason why credible institutions such as hospitals and fitness facilities offer yoga as an exercise or therapy option.

It works.

“You figure,” Felden said, “that yoga has been practiced for 5,000 years. The medicines and therapies that don’t work, won’t stand that test of time.”

Want to know more?

• For more information about Emily Gareis, the classes she teaches or Earthyoga visit

Yoga - Not Just for Hippies Anymore!

Posted by Emily Gareis on January 5, 2011 at 11:44 AM Comments comments (0)

When you think of yoga, several images may enter your mind, bearded older men sporting turbans and contorting their bodies in incredible displays of flexibility, barefoot hippies clad in hemp, or even a bleach blonde starlet in skin hugging spandex. You may not think of your pregnant sister, a football player, the CEO in the three piece suit, or even a freckled face kid, but the truth is that people from every walk of life practice yoga. Yoga is about breathing and gentle, smooth movements and this ancient form of exercise can be stylized to suit just about any fitness level and age group.


So What’s the “Real Deal” in Yoga?

The word yoga means "union," and indeed yoga entails a union of the mind and body. It consists of a series of fluid movements and postures (known as asanas) designed to improve flexibility and range of motion, as well as deep breathing and relaxation techniques to ease stress and quiet your mind.



No one has to be a pretzel to do yoga, it’s really safe, and it's one of the best ways for adults to get into exercising or get back into exercising no matter how long you’ve been gone. You also don’t really need any special equipment or space which makes Yoga one of the best forms or exercise for someone who travels or someone who doesn’t have a lot cash to burn.



Yoga is one of the few exercises that focus specifically on the mind as well as the body. Exercise, in general, is a stress reliever, but it doesn't really incorporate that specific mental component, except for in yoga.



Now I know some of you think this is all well and good yoga still sounds a little out there to me. Now let me debunk a few common misconceptions about yoga.


Yoga is not a religion – yoga is a time-tested system of practices to help you achieve optimal physical, mental, emotional and spiritual well-being. For those who are interested in simply improving their physical health, physical postures of yoga can be of tremendous benefit. For those seeking deeper self knowledge yoga has other tools to aid them.



And yoga isn’t just for Girls either. Many pro athletes practice yoga to help keep their bodies in top shape. It’s great for flexibility, strength and stamina – in more areas than one!


You don’t have to be in perfect shape to do yoga. Yoga is not about having the perfect body. Yoga is a way to help you achieve the healthiest body and mind you can possible have. The sooner you begin your practice of yoga the sooner and the longer you’ll be able to reap its many benefits.


Still Not Convinced, Don’t Worry You Are Not Alone

People are often reluctant to start practicing yoga, but when they realize the huge benefits that regular practice can bring, they soon incorporate yoga into their daily or weekly exercise routines.


Yoga can help increase muscle power, stamina and flexibility. There is no dispute that yoga can help you physically but it can also be extremely beneficial as a stress reducer.


Stress is one of the most critical factors that impacts people’s physical, mental, and emotional health. Yoga is one of the best ways to deal with stress. Through a combination of deep stretching, meditation and breathing techniques will aid relaxation, reduce stress and calm the mind.



The overall practice of Yoga can also help combat age-related diseases like Osteoporosis, Diabetes and heart problems. (At a fraction of the cost of most drugs)


Not only that Yoga can also help with weight loss, toning the body, it helps to bring mental clarity, and you even might find that you relate to friends and family better. Yoga often inspires you to break other unhealthy habits and behaviors.


As I have said before yoga is a wonderful way to relieve stress and tension from the body and to maintain flexibility and range of motion. It can even help develop your creative ability. It is why the practice of Yoga is highly recommended to everyone, men women and children alike.



Although there are many styles of yoga, the differences are usually about emphasis, such as focusing on strict alignment of the body, coordination of breath and movement, holding the postures, or the flow from one posture to another. All of the styles share a common lineage. No style is better than another; it's simply a matter of personal preference. More important than any style is the student-teacher relationship. Yoga has also been adapted to work specifically with those with limited mobility. Yoga in a chair can provide as many benefits as doing Yoga on a mat.



This ancient practice of yoga is by far the best way to not only increase your strength and peace of mind, but also add to your stamina. Take the time you need to become aware, build a better relationship with yourself and others and become more content and confident in your daily life and overall well being.

The Top Ten Reasons why You Should Practice Yoga

Posted by Emily Gareis on January 5, 2011 at 11:41 AM Comments comments (0)

Top Ten Reasons to Try Yoga!


Inner Peace! The meditative aspects of yoga help many to reach a deeper, more spiritual and more satisfying place in their lives. Many who began to practice for other reasons have reported this to be a key reason that yoga has become an essential part of their daily lives.


Balance- the art of yoga is ALL about balance - and not just about learning to balance on your head. In err of extremes practicing yoga will not only help your physical balance but your mental and emotional balance as well.


Cardiovascular Conditioning! Even gentle yoga practice can provide vascular benefits by lowering resting heart rate, increasing endurance and improving oxygen uptake during exercise.



Improved Circulation! Yoga helps to improve circulation and, as a result of various poses, more efficiently moves oxygenated blood to the body’s cells.


Weight Management! Yoga (even less vigorous styles) can aid weight control efforts by reducing cortisol levels as well as by burning excess calories and reducing stress. Yoga also encourages healthy eating and provides a heightened sense of well being and self esteem.



Increased strength! Yoga asanas (postures) use every muscle in the body, helping to increase strength literally from head to toe. And, while these postures strengthen the body, they also provide and additional benefit of helping to relieve muscular tension.



Flexibility! Yoga helps to improve flexibility and mobility, increasing range of movement and reducing aches and pains. Many people can’t touch their toes during their first yoga class. Gradually they begin to use the correct muscles. Over time, the ligaments, tendons and muscles lengthen, increasing elasticity, making more poses possible. Yoga also helps to improve body alignment resulting in better posture and helping relieve back, neck, joint and muscle problems.


Better breathing! Yoga teaches people to take slower deeper breaths. This helps to improve lung function, trigger the body’s relaxation response and increase the amount of oxygen available to the body.


Pain relief! Yoga can ease pain. Studies have demonstrated that practicing yoga asanas (postures), meditation or a combination of the two, reduced pain for people with conditions such as cancer, multiple sclerosis, auto-immune diseases and hypertension as well as arthritis, back and neck pain, and other chronic conditions. Some practitioners report that even emotional pain can be eased through the practice of yoga.


Stress Release! Yoga reduces the physical effects of stress on the body. By encouraging relaxation, yoga helps lower the levels of the stress hormone cortisol. Related benefits include lowering blood pressure and heart rate, improving digestion and boosting the immune system as well as easing symptoms of conditions as anxiety, depression, asthma and insomnia.


Posted by Emily Gareis on January 5, 2011 at 11:33 AM Comments comments (1)

In May 2006 my husband and I were involved in a life changing car accident.  The accident obliterated my left femur so I am now the proud owner of a rod from my knee to my hip with lots of screws, pins and a leg that is 2 ½ inches shorter than the other. 


After four major surgeries, three lengthy hospital stays and months and months of rehab, I was told my injury was a “good as it would get”.  I was devastated since I was still using a walker and a cane to get around and couldn’t do steps at all.  I had gained 60 lbs in that time and truly had lost hope of ever getting back to my life before the accident.


Being a yoga instructor for the previous 10 years I just couldn’t accept my fate and actively sought out something that might help my plight – I discovered “Chair Yoga” through “Liz Franklin’s Yoga in Chairs” and it has helped me get back to the life I once had. I am teaching yoga again, both on the mat and in a chair, I have lost almost all of the weight that I gained and I am now able to provide a deeper insight for those who have issues with mobility inspiring individuals who don’t think they can lead an active life


Emily Gareis, RYT