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She’s taking yoga to the masses

A YogaCore class led by Katie Pearson (off camera) at Be New yoga studio in Winslow Green assumes the “chair” pose. - JULIE BUSCH photo
A YogaCore class led by Katie Pearson (off camera) at Be New yoga studio in Winslow Green assumes the “chair” pose.
— image credit: JULIE BUSCH photo

Katie Pearson’s studio tailors each class to all levels.

As bodies move from a flat “pre-push up” pose to an inverted “V,” Katie Pearson keeps up instructions and encouragement to the class.

“Step back for pyramid pose...Check in with your glutes, hamstrings. Check in with how we’re doing,” the yoga instructor says. “Strong quads, strong breath, strong feet.”

Her voice is calm and soothing, yet faces are pink with warmth and a sheen of sweat in about 20 minutes. Beginners find themselves stretching seldom used body parts. Pressure on the wrists in one pose is relieved in the next.

Pearson urges the group to find a position that is comfortable for them, to modify poses or skip those that don’t feel right.

“Vinyasa (yoga) focuses on feeling. We don’t focus on how it looks, but how it feels, so we change it,” Pearson said. “That’s why we don’t have (walls of) mirrors. I don’t want people to compare themselves with others, to judge how they look. I want them to adjust based on how they feel.”

Pearson recently opened Be New yoga studio in Winslow Green. Following the YogaFit training method, the regimen focuses on making yoga more accessible, such as by using English names for poses instead of the original Sanskrit.

“Every class is geared to all levels,” Pearson said. “We want to bring yoga to the masses.”

Pearson says while some yoga styles focus on precise poses, YogaFit allows variations aiming to make people healthier in their daily activities. For an athlete, it might mean stretching out tight muscles; for non-athletes, building strength; for those in rehabilitation, regaining functionality.

But yoga also benefits the mind.

“It’s teaching us to come out of our head – the chatter of our mind – to what we’re feeling, what’s happening within,” Pearson said. “By moving body and focusing on breathing, we become more aware of what we are feeling. We can stop and respond instead of reacting.”

Yoga student Stephanie Roberts finds benefits all around.

“I think it’s great. I haven’t exercised in years. It looked like fun and I know Katie, so I tried it,” she said. “It’s like getting a massage, therapy, counseling and exercise all at the same time. My husband told me to keep on doing it because he loves my disposition afterward.”

Beginners may feel awkward or clumsy in the first few classes, but Pearson says that’s just getting over the learning curve of the poses.

“It all starts with small beginnings,” Pearson said. “I believe that over time people will feel their way into alignment. Most of all, listen to your body. Rest when you need to and the benefits will come with the first day.”

Even the act of focusing on breathing, taking deep breaths, is helpful, she said.

“Within 30 or 40 seconds of deep abdominal breathing the pulse drops and blood pressure drops,” she said. “Production of the stress hormone stops.”

Growing up on the island, Pearson was always into athletics and considered yoga “too easy.” She tried yoga again five years ago when she was a stay-at-home mom. Within weeks, it had lessened the chronic neck and back pain she had been living with.

Pearson ended up dropping some of her more vigorous sports, yet says she felt more fit and had more energy. She took a class for instructors soon after.

“I immediately felt the result in body and mind. My whole body felt stronger. I felt connected with myself more than I had in a long time,” she said. “I just felt clarity and joy and knew it was worth pursuing.”

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Gain without pain

Be New is at 124 Winslow Way West in Winslow Green. Classes may be paid for on a drop-in basis, multi-packs or by the month. Student and senior discounts are available. For class schedules, drop by the studio or call 780-3855. Free classes run through March 19. A trial class is on Saturday.

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