Soothing, upbeat music played softly as 30 students relaxed and stretched into their yoga positions inside the North Gym’s basketball and volleyball courts, normally bristling with athletic competition, darkened to a quiet meditative atmosphere.
“Listen to your body and let it tell you what is good for you today,” said Shilo Nelson, instructor of physical education. “Inhale to prepare and lengthen, exhale to move into and execute.”
Yoga classes teach stress reduction, healthy blood pressure, and a range of motion, according to Nelson who teaches the Vinyasa yoga class.
Vinyasa is a form of yoga that links poses together in a distinctive order to develop strength and flexibility.
“I like empowering people… it is like an instant gratification,” said Nelson. “I am giving them a skill that they can take with them.”
Nelson went to graduate school at California State University Northridge (CSUN) where she specialized in kinesiology, the study of human movement.
She was also the wellness coordinator for the Army Corps of Engineers and part of the Air Force for four years and is currently the president of the Kinesiology Alumni Chapter at CSUN.
“Basically you strengthen and increase your range of motion at the same time,” said Nelson. “This is what makes it different than weight training.”
The music in her class ranges from yoga chants, light jazz, nature sounds and the sound of running water.
As the class wound down Nelson spoke to her students as they lay on their backs on the gym floor.
“Expand your finger tips, palms up, let your feet open up,” said Nelson. “Allow the force to take over you and observe what the practice has done to your body.”