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Weights Give Yoga Faster Impact-Enhanced procedure adds to the core ideals
Instructor combines yoga,
weights for faster results
Marin Independent Journal
Article Dated: 03/13/2006
YOGA CAN take it.
A practice blending mind and body, yoga draws an aura of spirituality into
the gym with a pure form of movement and awareness. So when Sherri
Baptiste Freeman drops weights into yoga and calls it a “workout,“ it sounds
almost sacrilegious. But yoga can take it, says Baptiste Freeman, whose Yoga with Weights for Dummies" is new in print ($21.95 from Wiley Press
nationwide). “It's all yoga,“ she says. And she should know. The inspirational Kentfield mother of four has a virtual yoga pedigree. Her father
helped bring yoga to the West Coast. Her brother took yoga into the
Philadelphia Eagles training program. Baptiste Freeman has made two
videos and a dvd . She grew up with yoga, health, dance, and fitness.
“It's totally part of my DNA,“ she says. But she also grew up with weights.
Her father didn't just pioneer yoga in America, opening San Francisco's
first yoga studio in the ‘50s, he was also a Mr. America. “You'd walk into
one of his studios and you'd have a full gym with all the equipment.“
Students learned to intergrate a balance of yoga, along with weight training
into their week. It's not surprising that Baptiste Freeman would be bringing
the two together. But yoga and weights are not always seen in the same
room, or even the same building. In most yoga classes, the only equipment
is the mat. And maybe a towel to wipe off the sweat. Though it has
moved into gyms, yoga retains an almost anti-athletic ethic. It's not a jock thing. Baptiste Freeman knows that
there are people in the yoga world who will look at her book and her weights with suspicion, perhaps even
disdain. Talking about faster results“ might bring an even stronger reaction. She's not worried, and encourages
them to look deeper. “I think they're going to come around once they read the book,“ Baptiste Freeman says.
Robin Gueth, who runs the Stress Management Center of Marin, says it's not just faster results.
It's getting results at all. The extra oomph is necessary for a lot of people. “Originally yoga was used with
people who were working the field and working outside all day,“ Gueth says. “These days we spend so much
time seated and indoors that sometimes we need a little bit more.“ And Baptiste-Freeman's routines are no
grunting, heaving, thick-necked powerlifting routine. “She's not asking people to pick up 50-pound weights
here,“ Gueth says. Baptiste has been doing it without grunts for years. She teaches group classes without
weights at places like Gold's Gym in Larkspur, but with her private clients, weights were a familiar tool.
“I was always carrying weights in my car.“ The weights just make it better. Baptiste Freeman says she was
very thoughtful in bringing the weights in. She consulted with a physiologist. She made sure the poses are
“safe and stable.“ “At the right time and at the right place we're adding a bit of weight- 1-3lbs 5lb max.“
Part of the appeal of what she calls “enhanced yoga“ is getting people to feel yoga's benefi ts faster. The
weights make the poses more intense “You ask a little bit more from your body“ - and people see their bodies
changing. “We like quick results,“ she says. “We're all busy.“ The meditative dimensions of traditional yoga
are not emphasized in her book, but Baptiste Freeman insists there is room for different manifestations of the
core ideals. She talks about yoga as a tree, with the basic principles forming the trunk and different variations
branching off from there. “There is no difference,“ she says. “It's all yoga.“ Richard Miller would agree.
The Marin yoga teacher and author stresses meditation in his teaching but says people who understand yoga,
understand that there is a duality in the practice. “There is a spiritual culture of yoga and a physical culture
of yoga, and they dovetail together,“ Miller says. Taking it further, Miller points out that the meditation isn't
possible without a strong physical “foundation.“ “You have to make the body and the mind very healthy and
fit so that you've got enough energy, to make a spiritual journey into who you are,“ says Miller, who
welcomes Baptiste Freeman's contributions. “If you don't have a healthy body, you're not going to be able to
meditate.“ In her book, Baptiste Freeman does stay true to the core ideals. Meditation is discussed. The basics
of breathing are covered and applied to each exercise: “We start people by having them breathe.“ She fits
yoga into the “real world.“ The “workouts“ are 20 and 30 minutes. People can pick and choose. They don't
need a mountain top or a hushed studio with wind chimes. “You can do this at your office. You can do this at your
desk.“ Some of the routines are even sportsspecific with pages devoted to cycling, skiing and volleyball. Who knew the exalted warrior was a golf move?
Like the weights, mixing competitive sports into yoga may be a departure from tradition. But Baptiste Freeman is not worried. Yoga, she says, can take it.
Quotes from the press:
Baptiste said in an e-mail to the Tulsa World that the
proper alignment, breathing and consciousness that
accompany yoga with weights “actually help prevent
injuries. Each exercise has specific alignment principals,
and is practiced slowly. You're taught to listen
to your breathing fozr any telltale signs that you are
pushing too hard or hurting yourself.“ “The whole
goal in yoga-with-weights exercise is to get in touch
with what works best for you, not just while doing an
exercise, but also in every area of your life,“ she said. …… Tulsa World
Yoga with Weights: Sherri Baptiste just released a
book on this subject. Bodybuilders have practiced
combining weight resistance principles, with Yoga, for
years, but Sherri may be on to something here. Yoga
purists aside - the contracting of muscles during weight
resistance training, and the stretching of muscles
when practicing Hatha Yoga, can be a harmonious
relationship. ……2006 – Paul Jerard / Aura Publications
'Yoga expert Sherri Baptiste offers her twist on using light weights with classic yoga movements in Yoga with Weights for Dummies.' ……2006 - Publishers Weekly.
"The first dumbbells were wooden, and the system of exercise using weight first came out of India as did yoga; it's all yoga," Baptiste said. "So when it comes to combining a breath-based practice with a bit of weight while I'm in a yoga posture, it's natural for me, especially having a lifetime of this under my belt. It’s about adding a little bit of weight skillfully at the right time and in the right places to maximize the potential of your yoga practice, or simply that exercise”. ……Tulsa World
For more information on Yoga with Weights see the web site..