Fri, May

Yoga on Crenshaw

Yoga instructor Denise Antoine has developed strength through yoga. Photo by Jason Lewis

When it comes to being healthy and fit, pound-for-pound, yoga may be the best option for a lot of people.


By Tracey Edwards

Entering the Crenshaw Yoga and Dance Studio is like stepping into a tranquil environment.  The peaceful atmosphere is very calming and it puts a person’s mind in the right state to strengthen their body. 

When it comes to being healthy and fit, pound-for-pound, yoga may be the best option for a lot of people.  In the never-ending quest of losing weight, this form of exercise can fit a person’s comfort level more than hitting the weights or running for endless miles, and many people have seen great results.

Denise Antoine, a yoga instructor at Crenshaw Yoga and Dance Studio, has seen dramatic changes in people who have taken up this activity. 

“People start to look leaner and longer,” Antoine said.  “And they actually do grow taller.  You’re walking into an extended, expanded version of yourself.”

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that the typical person should perform physical activities (exercise) for 150 minutes per week, which should include some form of muscle-strengthening activities that focuses on the legs, hips, back, abdomen, chest, shoulders, and arms.  While some people will hit the gym for weight training sessions, that form of exercise does not appeal to many people.  But yoga can be a great substitute.

“Yoga can absolutely be your primary and only form of physical wellness,” Antoine said.  “Some of us like variety.  Sometimes I need to be in ballet, yoga, and hiking.  But if I had to only choose one form of wellness, I’d have to say that yoga taps all parts of my interests.

“Yoga is a marathon, not a sprint,” Antoine continued.  “The focus of yoga is so that you could enjoy this type of athleticism for a lifetime.”

Many forms of exercise can be difficult for people as they age, mainly on their joints.  High impact exercises, such as running, jumping, or adding weights are not only tough on joints, but it can also aggravate preexisting injures, such as back problems.  But those problems are not issues with yoga.

“It’s low impact, so there are very low risks,” Antoine said.  “We’re not using any crazy weights, or resistance, or machines.  You’re using your body.  You are learning to shift into shapes, and contort into shapes that maybe you never thought that you could arrive to.  And you’re doing it from a place that strengthens the core.”

Even though this is low-impact exercise, that does not mean that it is not strenuous or an effective means to get a lean and toned body.  Many professional athletes have incorporated yoga into their training regimen, such as Venus and Serena Williams, LeBron James, Tom Brady, Ray Lewis, Lolo Jones, Blake Griffin, David Beckham, and Russell Wilson.

Many singers, including Beyonce, Rihanna, and Justin Timberlake, who deliver high energy-dance performances, incorporate yoga into their schedule. 

At the age of 50, First Lady Michelle Obama shifted to yoga from weight-bearing exercise. 

Many of the people associated with yoga are incredibly fit and healthy, as yoga can be highly challenging from a cardio and strength standpoint.  While some people may view the practice as not being intensive enough, that point of view is far from the truth. 

“Yoga gives you an opportunity to strengthen the shoulders, open up the hamstrings, strengthen the quads, and every part of your body,” Antoine said.  “I think the misconception of athleticism of yoga is that it has to be gentle.  There’s a pocket for that, but this is the best workout that I’ve ever experienced, and I’ve been an athlete for over 20 years.  You can bring into your yoga practice a really intense, highly cardio-challenging practice.”

Crenshaw Yoga and Dance Studio is located at 5426 Crenshaw Blvd.  They can be contacted at (323) 294-7148.  Visit their website at www.crenshawyogaanddance.org