Take a deep breath.
Notice where your body is feeling this morning.
Be present on your mat.
Feel the tension moving away…
This is how a yoga class at Present Moment Yoga begins. The only yoga studio in Washington is located on 127 Elm Street, right into the heart of downtown. I met up with the owner, Melissa Duchatschek, at one of her classes and asked her to tell us more about what she does.
Melissa, how long have you been practicing yoga?
I have been practicing yoga for 12 years, teaching it for eight. Before I had my son, I was at the gym every day after work. I took all the classes and lifted weights. After my son was born, I didn’t have as much energy, but I still wanted to do something that gave me a little time for myself and that would help me feel stronger and healthier again. Someone suggested yoga.
The first class I took was a Power Yoga class, based on the Astanga system. It was not what I expected at all. There was a lot of movement and the asanas (yoga postures) required a lot of strength. Because I was new to the practice, it was challenging to keep up as I was not familiar with the terminology and the breathing techniques. So, I switched to a yoga basics class for a while. It wasn’t long before I was hooked! I started taking a wider variety of classes until I found the style that felt right for me – which, oddly enough, was the Power Yoga class that I had found very challenging at the beginning of my exploration of the practice.
Many people are not sure if yoga is for them. Can anyone practice yoga?
Yoga is for everybody. It doesn’t matter if you are young or old, short or tall, skinny or chubby, a man or a woman. The thing about yoga is – if the first class you take doesn’t resonate with you, find a different one. Maybe it is the teacher, maybe the style, or the location… but whatever it is, I encourage people to try again. There are many styles of yoga out there and there is something for everyone. A lot of people say that they can’t practice yoga because they are not flexible enough, but this is exactly why they should practice! Practicing yoga helps to lengthen the muscles and it increases the body’s overall strength.
What are some of the other benefits of yoga?
Yoga has extensive benefits, not only for the body, but also for the mind and spirit. The practice reduces the effects of stress on the body by encouraging relaxation. With a yoga practice you learn to take deeper, slower breaths. This increases lung function and triggers the body’s relaxation response. The ability to balance becomes easier and coordination improves. A consistent yoga practice helps you become more focused and more aware of the present moment. this benefit can help you with your job, with your relationships, with school – in all aspects of your life.
What yoga classes do you teach at the studio?
We provide Basic Yoga, Vinyasa Flow, and PiYo (Pilates/Yoga fusion) Classes. We also offer workshops on different Yoga related topics. Everybody is welcome to come to our Open House on January 29 from 1:30 until 3:00 p.m. and take a look at the studio. The first class for new students is always free, and every 3rd Sunday of every month we hold free classes from 1:30 until 2:30 p.m. For a full schedule of the classes, you can visit our website.
How about yoga and men? Do you have any male students?
A lot of people think that yoga is mostly for women, but this is a misconception. I have some male students who enjoy taking the classes. We are actually going to have a “Yoga for Men” workshop in the beginning of February. It will be held on February 2nd, from 1:30 until 3:00 p.m.
Will you be taking yoga outside the studio?
Our new studio has a rooftop access, so when the weather is nice we can do classes outside, overlooking downtown and the river. Every spring we usually do classes at the park. Yoga is not only for everybody, but it can be practiced everywhere. It’s a way of life.
This is your time.
There is no TV, no kids, no spouse, no work, no distractions.
This is your time to take care of you.
To relax. To recharge.
This is your time to find a minute of peace.
So when you come out of here, you can be more focused and take that peace with you.
“Do not dwell on the past,
Do not dream of the future,
Concentrate your mind on the