Alternative Southlake- Fitness
By Pamela Francis
Yoga is so popular – an estimated 12 to 20 million Americans are regular practitioners – that it is almost difficult to think of it as an alternative type of fitness. Yet yoga’s benefits are so all-encompassing, it is indeed outside the norm of typical expectations about a fitness routine. In this third of a three-part series, we look at Sunstone Yoga in Southlake and the effect it is having throughout the community.
Many people think of yoga as simply ‘stretching’, but Sunstone Yoga – Southlake owner Yong Swearingen points out that although many students begin yoga to gain flexibility, they gain not only flexibility but also strength and balance. Indeed, Swearingen notes that this may be the biggest misconception about yoga – that you have to be flexible to do yoga – when really yoga will bring you flexibility. Similarly, people think that yoga is only meditation, stretching and chanting, when in reality Sunstone Yoga is a fitness-based yoga that focuses on strength just as much as flexibility.
Further, routine yoga practice yields physical benefits beyond the yoga studio. Swearingen explains that a regular yoga practice leads to greater awareness of what you are putting into your body, if for no other reason than to avoid feeling badly in class! As the body acclimates to the heated yoga room, people start to crave water-rich foods, drink more water and avoid foods that leave them feeling heavy. Sunstone instructor Amy Foreman concurs that she continually sees students striving to better their lives. As she says, “Being a teacher at Sunstone Yoga-Southlake, I have the privilege of being surrounded by people who are trying to improve their health … their lives. It’s so inspiring.”
Yet, more meaningful than the physical benefits, are the mental and emotional benefits that a consistent yoga practice brings. Foreman enthuses “sure, the physical benefits are huge, but the mental benefits are even better. My yoga practice has given me the foundation that helps me ‘try’ to stay grounded, centered and present every day. We allow our lives to get so busy and stressful – to a point where we don’t know how to make the craziness stop … we’re just so deep into it. Practicing yoga takes me away from all of that. It grounds me and reconnects me with who I really am beyond my thoughts, expectations and stresses of daily life.” Swearingen echoes, “we come into the studio with our minds pulling us in multiple directions. We leave the studio less stressed, calm and with clarity to make reasonable decisions.”
Even a brief glance at the student testimonials offered at Sunstone Yoga’s website reveal the multitude of benefits a yoga practice can bring. Students’ comments range from ‘I went from about 210 pounds to 190, where I’ve stayed for the past two years.’ And ‘I happened to lose about 35 pounds in approximately four months’ to ‘I have never felt so good about everything and had so much energy during the day’ and ‘A newfound peace is within me.’
As the past three articles have explored, many Southlake residents are looking beyond the norm in food, medical practices and fitness. The benefits that they are seeing as result of these explorations are profound and touching every aspect of their lives.
Pamela Francis lives in Southlake with her husband and three children. After receiving her undergraduate and law degrees in the Northeast, she had the good sense to move to Texas in 1993. Since retiring from the practice of law in 2003, Pam has devoted her time to family, friends, charitable work and the elusive goal of keeping a fully stocked refrigerator while there are teenagers in the house.