July 2013

Yoga For You

Cape Cod Life  /  July 2013 / , ,

Writer: Mary Grauerholz / Photographer: Luke Simpson and Maddie McNamara 

From loose limbs and solid abs, to mental clarity and emotional contentment, the perks of yoga have been extolled from the discipline’s ancient beginnings. but even with its rainbow of benefits, yoga practitioners sometimes reach an impasse. positive results stall. the original electric effect sputters. yoga slides from a healthy habit to a run-of-the-mill routine.
Many yoga aficionados say that the best cure for spells like this is to dip your yoga toes into something new: a challenging pose, an exotic environment, a fresh attitude. Cape Cod has a plethora of local instructors who love sharing their expertise in how to get “unstuck” in your yoga routine—offering a new twist, you might say, on a very old practice.

Cape Cod yoga

Photo by Maddie McNamera

{yoga for athletes}

Melissa Lorusso had been practicing yoga for years before she had her son. After his birth, she felt even a stronger pull to her practice. “I realized I needed it more than ever,” Lorusso says. “As a new mom, yoga grounded me and helped me find peace in my life. I really hadn’t planned on being a teacher; I just wanted to dive deeper into my practice and be a part of the teacher training experience.” Since then, Lorusso’s yoga teaching has blossomed; and today she teaches several styles, including stand-up paddleboard yoga (in conjunction with MOCEAN Cape Cod), heated Vinyasa Flow classes at Uptown Body in Falmouth, and private lessons in Surfset Fitness, a training regimen involving traditional exercises done on a surfboard indoors to engage core muscles.

Earlier this year, Lorusso added a Yoga for Athletes class to her repertoire at Uptown Body. The class, which resumes in September after a summer break, started organically, when Lorusso realized there were many athletes training in classes. “I noticed all these amazing people working very hard at the studio, as well as many of them training outside the studio,” she says. “These people are athletes; they take pride in their performance and enjoy the benefits they gain from their hard work.”

She also noticed that many of the students needed specific help to “release” their muscles, like the hips that tighten [see sidebar, p. 71] and the hamstrings that take a beating in high-impact athletic endeavors. “It made me realize there was a need for a class dedicated to lengthening and opening,” she says. “This is ultimately what will keep you flexible and enable your body to keep up with all that you demand of it.”

Today, her students include runners, bicyclists, triathletes, surfers, and skiers. She thinks of her Uptown Body class on Friday mornings as the athlete’s “once-a-week, be-really-nice-to-your-body-for-all-it-does” time to unwind. Lorusso has another tried-and-true cure for times when she feels stuck in her routine: “The best way is to get out of my head, into my body, and let my breath lead me. I connect deeply with my breath. This usually leads me to uncharted territory.”

Yoga for Athletes: yogagirlcapecod.com, uptownbodycapecod.com, 774-994-1682

Cape Cod yoga

Photo by Luke Simpson

{stand-up paddleboard yoga}

One look at the tagline stamped on Gillian Gibree’s website—“live, laugh, paddle”—says everything about Gibree’s infectious practice of yoga on a stand-up paddleboard (SUP) on the rolling waves of the ocean. “I think SUP yoga is about being outdoors and being playful,” she says. “The water is a healing environment. It’s all about finding that connection to nature. It takes you out of the studio and into the sunshine.”

SUP yoga, which is surging in popularity, calls on muscle groups that yogis and yoginis may not even realize they have. “The unstable surface of the paddleboard makes simple poses like plank more difficult,” Gibree says. “It causes little muscle groups to fire that normally wouldn’t.”

A Cape Cod native, Gibree now lives in San Diego and returns to the Cape to teach yoga clinics, including a stint later this summer. She started doing yoga as a teenager with her mother, a massage therapist. During that time, she was lifeguarding at Nauset Beach in Orleans. “I immersed myself in the ocean lifestyle, prone paddling, beach running, surfing, stand-up paddling, ocean swimming, beach yoga,” she says. Her first yoga teacher training was Yoga for Surfers.

Eventually Gibree created her own personal blend of yoga and deep love of the ocean through SUP. As she says, “It was a perfect match.”

Paddle Into Fitness: paddleintofitness.com, gillian@paddleinfofitness.com

Cape Cod yoga

Photo by Luke Simpson

{bikram yoga}

Ann Marie Paul, owner of Bikram Yoga Brewster, was a Bikram devotee from her first exposure several years ago. “I loved Bikram Yoga from the first class,” Paul says. “I was light; there was a sense that everything was going to be okay. I remember leaving that first class and thinking, ‘Someday, I am going to do this every day.’”
Bikram yoga is practiced in a very hot room—often greater than 95 degrees—led by an instructor specifically trained in the method based on hatha yoga that was devised by Bikram Choudhury. The hot environment is key, practitioners say. “The heat helps to loosen the muscles and tendons so that you can safely stretch,” Paul says. “The more you stretch, the more oxygen you can bring to your body. It also helps to focus the mind and bring your awareness to your breath.” Hydration is very important; Paul recommends drinking lots of water the day before and the day of the class. (She also recommends juice cleanses—diets comprised of fresh fruit and vegetable juices—which she offers at her yoga studio).
The unwavering series of 26 postures in Bikram yoga is a great yardstick for students who want to progress, Paul says. “When you do the same postures each time, you can see the improvement, and your mind doesn’t have to wonder what is coming next or how much longer the class is going to be. Boredom means that something wants to shift; it’s exciting!”
Practicing in a sweltering, safe environment might be one key to rekindling a yogi’s devotion. But more importantly, Paul says, getting unstuck in a yoga practice is rooted in a high consciousness. “I believe that when a person begins to feel bored or frustrated, or like their practice has plateaued, this is an indication that they’re ready for the next step in spiritual evolution,” she says. Learn how to breathe deeply, she recommends. “Your breath is a direct connection between your mind and your body. To breathe with awareness and on purpose is incredibly calming.”
Bikram Yoga Brewster: bikramyogabrewster.com, 508-896-5210


Mary Grauerholz is a frequent contributor to Cape Cod Life Publications.

Mary Grauerholz

Hatchville resident Mary Grauerholz is a former Cape Cod LIFE editor and a contributor to Cape Cod Life Publications. Some of Mary’s many articles have included a study of wild orchids that can be found on the Cape and Islands and a history piece on Donald MacMillan—the man for whom MacMillan Pier in Provincetown is named.