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Not Such a Stretch

Learning the ins and outs of yoga at Infinity Fitness

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Yoga has always been one of those things like learning to ski or maintaining a retirement account: I knew I’d be glad if I tried it, but somehow I just hadn’t gotten around to it. Not only that, but as an avid runner who recently, begrudgingly added some fairly half-assed weight training to his regimen and hardly ever stretches, I knew yoga would do me some good. I have plenty of friends who do yoga and have invited me to join them on many occasions, and we live in a town in which you can hardly step out of a frozen yogurt shop without wandering smack into a yoga studio. Yet through some combination of apathy and inertia I remained tethered to the endless cycle of karmic repetition, never knowing my true self and struggling with tightness in my hamstrings.

One of the things that usually gives pause to otherwise aspiring yogis is the anxiousness of being the new person in a class full of people who know what they’re doing, fumbling through a series of awkwardly unbalanced attempts while everyone around you is effortlessly twisting into pretzels. I managed to skip that step, because my first foray into yoga was a private lesson at Infinity Fitness and Wellness.

My instructor was proprietor Melissa Sischo. She graciously welcomed me into her serene corner of a renovated mill complex in Cranston, explaining how she was drawn to the feel and spaciousness of old industrial buildings. The space is a new home for Infinity, which began in 2013 (not, as you might imagine, at the very dawn of existence) but moved to its current location last fall. The studio offers a variety of options for both finding your center and toning your middle, including yoga classes, spin, Zumba, heated Pilates, even guided meditation.

After a quick tour, Melissa eased me into yoga by first explaining the items she had conveniently laid out for me: a yoga mat, a foam block, a blanket and a bottle of water. I noted that yoga was so unfamiliar to me that she could have presented any collection of random objects – say, a yoga mat, a garden hose, a bicycle helmet and a selection of old Bee Gees 45s – and convinced me that it was standard practice. As it turns out, the foam block and the blanket were both there to provide balance and support if necessary; I’m assuming you know the purpose behind the mat and the water.

We began with some of the basics from Infinity’s gentle yoga class: child pose, cat and cow pose, downward dog and also just relaxing comfortably on the mat. To both of our surprise, Melissa found that I was more flexible and balanced than expected and she began moving me up to some of the balance poses and sequences of movement from her mixed-level class: standing half lotus pose, sun and moon salutations and the like.

Throughout it, Melissa was both a guiding and calming presence, informing me what we were doing, why we were doing it and how it should feel, all the while monitoring my form. The balance and stretching came surprisingly easily – what I struggled with was the coordination of keeping my movements and poses straight. At every point, Melissa was there to educate and encourage.

I always knew I would eventually like yoga if I tried it, but I was very pleasantly surprised to find out how naturally I could take to it with the right instruction. If the bank offered this level of care and attention, I could afford to retire in no time.

Infinity Fitness and Wellness
1655 Elmwood Ave, Building 21 Cranston

215-5698 infinityfitnessandwellness.com

FIT NEWS
To Infinity and Beyond
Want to check out all that Infinity Fitness and Wellness has to offer? Visit them on their Fitness Marathon Day, June 20. No, you don’t have to run a marathon that day – it’s more of an open house. They will offer a variety of classes every half hour, refreshments, some vendors and raffles. Melissa Sischo prides herself on Infinity being a small studio with a close-knit clientele that participates in lots of fitness events together, so it’s a great opportunity to get to know the place and people. It’s only $20 to reserve a spot, and you’ve got to register in advance. Call 215-5698 to join.


The Littlest Yogis
While we’re on the subject of introducing newbies to yoga, let’s talk about turning your children into pretzels. (Not literally.) OM Kids Yoga Center is now offering fun and engaging classes for the little ones at Breathing Time Yoga. Their “Yoga Pretzels” class covers tikes 5-7, and “Breathe, Love, Bend” offers instruction for older kids, 8-11.

For more information on schedule and pricing, call Elyse at 954-4992 or email her at elyse@omkidsyogacenter.com. Breathing Time Yoga, 541 Pawtucket Ave., Pawtucket. breathingtimeyoga.com