A Breath of Yoga

byBen Cripps

Horizon Reporter

  “Inhale, exhale. Move with your breath; all those things you’ve done today, and you choose to be here,” said Ann Dunphy, 52, as she instructed students on the techniques of yoga breathing.
           Dunphy can be found at Whatcom Community College’s Foundation building, room 105, every Wednesday from 4 p.m. to 5 p.m., teaching students the benefits of regular yoga practice.
           The Associated Students Club presented the eight-week yoga series, which features a once-a-week, one-hour beginner’s yoga class, which started Oct. 12.
           Dunphy, slim and standing roughly 5-foot-4-inches, sports black Adidas yoga pants and a light blue dry-fit shirt. She is barefoot with short, dark hair, rounded wire-rim glasses, and a tan that glows equally as bright as her pearl-white teeth.
           With colorful purple, blue, and green Hawaiian flower-print yoga mats sprawled across the room, participants begin by stretching out their bodies in “child’s pose;” as they put their feet together, arms forward, and lie down resting their heads on the mats, as they focus on breathing deeply.
           The room is quiet, only breathing can be heard.
           “Inhale, exhale,” said Dunphy.
                        “Yoga is about moving energy in our bodies,” she said. She encourages participants to reflect on the day’s events, life’s events, and what else may be distracting them from focusing on breathing.
           Breathing is the focus in yoga, and for good reason.
           “Breathing really calms your nervous system and your mind,” said Dunphy. “Use it to de-stress and unwind; if your mind is wandering, bring it back to center and focus on your breath.”
           When we focus on one thing, it brings a sense of calm and of brief relief to how hectic the day can be, said Dunphy, and it also releases toxins from the body.
           Breathing should be done by drawing one’s belly in close to their body, she said. This may be easier said than done, especially with poses like the “bow pose,” which requires individuals to lay flat on their stomachs, look up, and reach behind them while grabbing their ankles.
           “Inhale, exhale,” she said.
           As Dunphy instructs students through various poses ranging from “warrior” to “cobra,” she teaches students about the body, how it works and how to relax.
           “Relaxation is the biggest benefit,” said Peter Olmsted, 23, who has been actively practicing yoga for the past two years. It’s beneficial in any situation, he added.
           “Yoga allows people to have whatever experience they want,” said Dunphy. It creates a sense of community with others in the room; people feel safe when they have that sense of community, she said.
           Dunphy has been teaching yoga for three years and currently teaches a class at the Lummi Indian Reservation. Initially, she wanted to be healthier and take a fitness class. She ultimately discovered yoga as her forté.                
           “Inhale, exhale,” said Dunphy.
           As the hour comes to a close, Dunphy goes one-by-one to each student and relaxes their shoulders. Yoga is “a really good way to connect mind, body and spirit,” she said.


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