BY Molly Congdon
CLIFTON PARK—The individuals in the gymnasium of Shenendehowa’s High School East—the walls plastered with green banners populated with columns of white numbers displaying the years of suburban council, sectional, state and national championships for various athletic teams— had sweat perspiring from their skin. Their faces were full of focus, but they maintained a constant state of composure. They pushed their bodies to the limit and when it was over they left the court with satisfied smiles of pride.
This wasn’t a volleyball or basketball game; in fact, participants were only competing against themselves, in a sense. The lines drawn on the wooden panels marking the boundaries for those sporting events were covered by pink, purple, magenta, black and blue strips of thin foam—yoga mats.
The school played host to bmoved, a global Baptiste Foundation—a non-profit organization contributing to individuals and communities in need by sharing the powerful tools and techniques of Baptiste Yoga— event to raise money for charities from all over the world as well as the Baptiste Foundation itself. Shenendehowa joined more than 75 yoga events, which took place throughout the United States as well as internationally in places such as Afghanistan, Singapore, South Africa and London.
“Our mission is to be of service on a local and global level while providing an opportunity for the community to experience the benefits of yoga and to raise awareness for our Shenendehowa student yoga programs that are launching this fall and winter,” Melissa Leach, executive director of the Baptiste Foundation, said. “The Baptiste Foundation is excited to work with Shenendehowa High School to bring groundbreaking mindfulness and yoga programs to our youth and teachers.”
Shenendehowa students were the gears that kept the inner workings of this event going.“The Class of 2018, which I am the co-advisor for, are using this as their community service project for the year,” Shenendehowa High School Physical Education teacher Jennifer Sykes said. “Same with the Shen girl’s lacrosse team.”
They are hoping the amount raise will reach four figures. “It’s up in the air right now, because we are getting so many walk-ins,” Sykes said. “Right now, we have 100 people registered so it will be great if we could raise over $1,000; that’s our minimum goal at this point and great for year one.”
IN AND OUT
The day was broken down into various classes.
Kids yoga started off the morning with passion and excitement. These fearless yogis (Gosh, don’t you miss being flexible without soreness following the next day?) embraced the poses with enthusiasm holding bridges and—without wavering—holding their legs in the air with their toes pointed towards the rafters.
Vinyasa Flow GLOWGA drew more bodies. The gym was draped in a sheet of darkness; the only light came from glow-sticks, which were worn as bracelets, necklaces and even wrapped around hair buns, situated high on heads in samurai top knot style.
As soft, mellow music played in the background, participants moved in and out of poses, mimicking the instructor like a game of Simon Says. Fortunately enough, if one made a mistake they didn’t have to reenact the scene from “Pitch Perfect” where Anna Kendricks’ character drags her metal chair across the floor; those yoga mats stayed put because no one was kicked to he curb for not hacking a downward facing dog, the focus was on doing one’s personal best.
“Feel the weight of your head stretching your spine,” Instructor Bethany Spencer said to the group as they leaned forward to touch their toes. “Inhale through your nose and exhale through your mouth.”
However, it was the Yoga for Athletes session took up the largest chunk of time, lasting for an hour and a half instead of 45 minutes.
The goal of this particular class was to help keep bodies stronger, healthier and better functioning. “When I talk to a lot of students about injury prevention they always jump to strength training; getting ready to jump into exercise and throwing weights around,” Physical Therapist of Capital Area Physical Therapy and Wellness Dr. Evan Marsh said. “There’s a lot more to it than that. It’s about encompassing your entire wellness.”
He continued: “There’s three really important things that I talk about when I consider injury prevention and they are: mobility, stability and then overall body awareness and integration. the idea of mobility is to be able to have flexibility within the tissue and healthy movement within the joints; stability is when you want that joint to be in a position that you want to be in when it’s asked; and when we talk about integration, we’re talking about is the sequence of coordinated movements that we want every muscle to work right where you want it to work.”
“We are thrilled that bmoved is at Shenendehowa; we are always looking for ways to inspire all of our students to live healthy lifestyles and make good choices,” Athletic Director of Shenendehowa Central School District Chris Culnan said.“The day has something for everyone and for many of our students it will be their first introduction to yoga.”
This Hindu discipline is valuable in more ways than one. “I think with how our modern society is where we sit a lot, we are constantly rolled forward with our shoulders and there’s a lot of work on computers and with smart phones…I think we are losing mobility,” Sykes said. “Most importantly, I think that yoga brings people together and it gives a common senses of community that is exactly what we try to teach in a high school setting. How to give up yourself to benefit people who need a little more assistance.”