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FYI SOUTH Magazine, May 2007

Yang-Jing Yoga/ www.yj-yoga.com.tw/p1.htm
79, JhongHua 3rd Rd, CianJin District, 3F, Kaohsiung City (JhongHua Branch); (07) 215-7277
(07) 395-6033
221, DaChang 1st Rd, SanMin District, 5F, Kaohsiung City (DaChang Branch)
423, YuCheng Rd, ZuoYing District, 5F, Kaohsiung City (YuCheng Branch)
(08) 735-3667
690, GuangDong Rd, 5F, Pingdong City (Pingdong Branch)

Power Fitness Yoga
(07) 235-9783
2, Lane 180, LiouHe 1st Rd, 2F, Kaohsiung City
Website : http://www.pfyoga-central.com/index.php?option=com_frontpage&Itemid=1&lang=zh-tw

Eyoga Athletic Center
(07) 747-2020
FengShan Branch: 197, CingNian Rd, Sec 2, 2F, FengShan City
(07) 765-6185
FengShan SinFu Branch: 375, SinFu Rd, 2F, FengShan City
FengShan WuJia Branch: 493, WuJia 2nd St, 2F, FengShan City

Mastering the Art of Yoga

By Lindsay Alderton Translated by Sho Huang and Ann Lee

It is an irony that yoga, which originated in India over 3,000 years ago, circumnavigated the globe and became popular in the West before taking East Asia by storm. Despite this wayward journey, the current craze, which has swept through Hong Kong and Japan, has now very much arrived in Taiwan. Yoga gyms and health clubs are springing up all over the island and, with possibly as many as over a million Taiwanese practitioners, yoga is becoming one of the most popular ways to exercise and still the mind.

Yoga's influence is everywhere now in mainstream pop culture. While the practice was still very much personified by the cheese-cloth and patchouli brigade a decade ago, it is now more likely to be epitomized by the legions of lithe young celebrities, who regularly bend their bodies into pretzels in an effort to keep up with Madonna. Advertisers are cashing in on the boom and even McDonald's has offered a give-away yoga DVD as part of its healthy make-over campaign. One has to wonder if the true message behind this ancient tradition is in danger of being lost.

Yoga is the Sanskrit word for "union", and the ultimate aim is to strike a balance between the physical and mental. Through a disciplined system of exercises, the practitioner hopes to unify control of the body and mind. Psychologically speaking, it is not surprising that with the increased stresses of modern living--in both Asia and beyond--many have turned to yoga as a safe sanctuary from which to both reflect and revive. For others, in these tumultuous times of religious warfare, yoga has provided a peaceful philosophy with which to fill the spiritual void. For the vast majority, however, the attraction stems from something far more simple--the desire to increase levels of physical health and well-being--and, in the words of one young yoga enthusiast, "ultimately, to have a beautiful body."

The physical benefits of yoga are well documented. With regular practice, yoga can help you grow stronger, more toned, and more flexible. It improves respiration, energy and vitality, and helps to maintain a balanced metabolism, which regulates weight. Alongside promoting cardiovascular health, it also helps you look and feel younger.
Muscle Asia, one of the best, established gyms in Kaohsiung, has had regular yoga classes for years. Their instructor, Monica, says that yoga is a great activity for people who want muscles that are stronger, not bigger. Her courses run through the week and put everyone, from beginners to advanced level students, together in the same class. "Because yoga is about developing your own flexibility and muscle stamina, you can join a class and just go at your own pace."

The new Fitness Factory in TsouYing is the latest gym in Kaohsiung to join the yoga craze. Their massive facility, which is now the biggest gym in Taiwan, has 12 classes a week, including beginners, power yoga, a class that's a mix of tai chi and yoga, and many more. They have new students joining every week and it's become very popular among the female members of the gym. Of course, men are always welcome to join the class, too!

Pop singer Faith Yang described her first yoga lesson as painful. She kept asking herself why she put up with this. At the end of the lesson, she was soaking wet yet felt unusually relaxed. To feel that relaxation again and again, she dragged herself back to the classroom despite her sore muscles. After a year, she's pleased to see the results; tight and firm thighs, belly and arms. "It's like winning an award," she said. Another singer, Valen Hsu, began her yoga lessons six years ago. Years of practice brings nice color to her face and curving figure. "However, the most important thing is that yoga allows my soul to communicate with my body and enables me to experience true happiness," notes Hsu.

South African Dean Leppan, 26 years old, has been attending yoga lessons for more than a year: "I had taken yoga lessons in India. It's not a 'girly' exercise or something for effeminate men. The qualified yoga therapy instructor showed me how yoga can help me totally relax."

Another student, Xia Dong-Dong, said that instead of using mirrors in the classroom to distract her, the instructor at her school acted as a mirror to correct her posture. "Every muscle in your body feels the soothing effects. The practice also involves a lot of stretching and deep breathing which keeps you relaxed throughout", she said. "It takes a lot of focus to hold some of the positions but, as a result, I feel far more clear-headed and less restless, and physically stronger and more balanced. All in all, I feel great, both inside and out."

"Yoga has no limits, either for age or body type," says Rob, a yoga instructor. "And it is a wrong assumption that you have to be super-flexible to begin with. This is not the case at all. It's much more about the process than the final product, about helping you to find your limitations and not forcing the body into painful positions."
Alongside the burgeoning supply of yoga gyms and fitness centers, there are also community classes taking place in Taiwan's city parks, and several businesses now go so far as to offer weekly yoga as an option for their employees. Even some schools are now advocating yoga as an extra-curricular activity for children, who naturally have the tools for flexibility, but need a calming discipline to help them better focus their concentration levels.

The future of yoga in Asia seems certain to keep on expanding, so there has never been a better time to let go of your stereotypes, open your mind, and give it a try!

ChengYuan Spa
(07) 331-5288
35, GuangHua 1st Rd, LingYa District, 5F, Kaohsiung City

Alexander Group/ www.alexander.com.tw
(07) 335-8000
217, SanDuo 3rd Rd, 16/17F, Kaohsiung City (Sogo Department Store)
(06) 288-3338
117, ChongMing Rd, B1, Tainan City

Fitness Factory
(07) 345-3838
100, BoAi 3rd Rd, TsouYing District, Kaohsiung City

Muscle Asia
(07) 555-5002
Kaohsiung branch: 315, MingHua Rd, B1, GuShan District
(06) 241-1124
Tainan branch: 166, JhongShan Rd (FOCUS Department Store 11F)

World Gym
(07) 968-7888
165, LinSen 1st Rd, Kaohsiung City
(06) 600-6688
166, JhongShan Rd, Tainan City


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