Note: The following is a reprint of a 1977 article titled "Yoga Makes the Body Beautiful" that features my mother, Joanne Church Staples Moore.
I'm posting it to share with those who knew her, and as a tribute to mom in anticipation of what would have been her 70th birthday (May 12, 2017).
She was age 29 at the time of this article, a few months shy of 30th birthday. She was a "health and fitness nut" at this stage in her life, and passed this passion on to the family. We ate a lot of fruit, veggies, yogurt and wheat germ in those days.
In fact, I recall being that crazy kid who did the yoga headstand for "Show and Tell" in my first grade class.
As a competitive athlete throughout high school I used many of the yoga moves and techniques she taught us to maintain flexibility, and strengthen the mind-body-spirit connection.
Today, I still incorporate these principles into my health and fitness practices. And at age 47, can still pull off a descent yoga headstand. ;-)
So I post this as a tribute to my mother and personal yogi. Love and miss you always, Mom. Namaste.
**Yoga Makes the Body Beautiful
Click to enlarge images.
Click to enlarge images.
By Kathleen Dooley
The Riverside Sun, Tuesday Feb 1, 1977
Want to get rid of those midwinter blues and learn a way to deal with tensions and apprehensions at the same time?
Try a course in yoga.
A group of energetic women have enrolled at the Cohoes YWCA for the yoga course this semester. They’re finding after only two sessions that it’s an enjoyable way to relax.
The women do take on some unusual position. They can be seen sitting cross-legged, lying completely still in a prone position or perhaps standing on their heads.
It may look strange but it does wonders for the body. Their instructor Joanne Staples says it tones up the body muscles and helps relieve tensions, besides help to lose inches.
“Yoga is an Indian method of relaxation,” says Joanne. She began herself at the “Y” course less than two years ago.
“I loved it the moment I started,” says Joanne. She began by learning the positions and kept trying to find out more and more. “My teacher, June White of Troy, lent me books and articles and I kept reading a practicing. The next thing I knew, she was showing me how to be an instructor.”
According to her students, she’s doing a fantastic job. She has mastered all the positions and can maintain them.
Joanne says it makes you feel so very, very good. “It brings out the muscle tone and has both immediate and long-range effects on the body,” she comments. “It’s also just good to keep the figure the way you want it to stay,” says Joanne.
Is it difficult to learn? “I learned quickly,” says Joanne, “but it’s most important to let the body flow. You just let the body go by itself, if possible,” she adds.
Yoga, she claims, cannot be a forced exercise. This is the type so many women are used to learning.
The effects are subtle, but within four to six weeks, she says a person becomes aware of how much better the body feels from the Yoga sessions.
"It only works for those who are able to relax enough," she continues. She has noticed through her experiences that it can happen only if you allow it to and don't force the issue. Yoga has made her a much calmer person. That's one of the long-range effects.
"Most comment afterwards on how many inches they've lost and how much better they feel generally all over," Joanne says.
After she started, she had a weight loss of about 30 pounds. She also noticed a general tightening of all her muscles and had a feeling of being in good physical condition.
Relaxed breathing is an important part of the course Joanne says. The breathing allows the muscles to relax and the blood to flow smoothly throughout the entire body.
"I tell my students to concentrate and visualize such things as your lungs being empty glass and the air all around is water or vice versa," she says.
They are learning the Hatha Yoga technique. "Hatha means a union of the body and the mind," says Joanne. "The symbols for it are the sun and the moon and it requires great concentration." In Hatha, the mind does as much work as the body.
The entire body is taught to relax. One of the positions which some may find difficult to master is the headstand. "In the headstand," she says, "the blood flows down throughout the body and all systems are activated." The flow of blood and oxygen is good for the hair, skin, and many other parts of the body claims Joanne.
Joanne enjoys doing the headstand because it conditions the muscles in the body to take a lot of strength to do. She compares it to "pressing" weights equal to the weight of your body. The reverse posture helps the blood to circulate and really flow."
"Inhale deeply, always through the nose," she tells the girls, "Keep the mouth closed."
The air goes to the bottom of the lungs using this method of breathing. Then, they hold their breath and finally exhale through the nose, very slowly all the time.
The stomach muscles should tighten and each time the lungs are being emptied out completely and filled up again. All these breathing exercises require deep concentration and proper instruction.
At the beginning and end of each session in yoga, the girls go through a "relaxation" period, during which they learn to breathe and relax fully for 15 minutes. They lie in the "sponge" position, which merely means lying flat on the back on the floor.
"Yoga fits into your life," says Joanne. She finds that many of the postures can be carried on throughout the day.
"When you become aware of tension, you begin to understand what is happening and you know enough to teach your body to learn how you feel and learn the yoga position to take which is best to relieve the tension."
Joanne Staples' students are thoroughly enjoying the sessions. They feel they are learning something new and different and at the same time relaxing.