In the early morning hours, when the spring sun is only faintly seen above the horizon, the Mind Body Fusion class begins at the Recreation Center to perfect an activity most feel compelled toward after a night’s rest: stretching.
A quick stretch upon waking can energize one to get out of bed; it relieves tension and improves the circulation for muscles that have been inactive through the night.
The prolonged stretches and balance used in Mind Body Fusion may look intimidating from an outsider’s perspective, but when muscles are flexible it makes getting out of bed easier.
But to be up and ready for a class at 7 a.m. is no easy task. It takes initiative to wake up on time, eat breakfast and summon the necessary motivation for exercise. What sets Mind Body Fusion apart from other morning fitness routines is the very essence the course was built on — a sense of physical and mental unity.
When Barbara Tyler left Brooklyn, N.Y. to come to southern Illinois to work on a master’s degree, she brought with her the idea of the Mind Body Fusion class she now teaches every Tuesday and Thursday morning.
Now a certified therapeutic recreation specialist, Tyler has been in the business of teaching fitness classes since 1982, and with her own personalized approach has managed to blend yoga and Pilates into a class designed to improve flexibility, strength and muscular endurance.
“Breath and the connection of your mind and body are key,” Tyler said. “ You cannot disassociate and do this class.”
For me, disassociation was not an option. It took every amount of concentration I could muster to maintain each and every pose.
Karen Midden, an agriculture professor who has attended the classes for nearly two semesters, said the holistic workout the class has to offer is one that focuses on the little muscles, and for her, it’s made a world of difference.
“I’m sure I’m older than anyone else in this class as far as students are concerned,” Midden said. “Focusing on the little muscles that improve balance in turn increases your focus. Paying attention to the smaller muscles that improve balance make for a holistic approach to fitness.”
Tyler said the breathing exercises taught in the class could be incorporated outside of the class as well.
“The psychological improvements are as obvious as the physical,” Tyler said. “If you draw on the breathing you learn from this class and others like it, it can help to calm you down in stressful situations.”
The life of a student can be stressful, and yoga and Pilates are a great means of stress management. At the end of the class I felt calm, focused and ready to face the day ahead.
No matter how poorly you do it, or how stressed you are, the de-stressing effect is a major factor whether done just once or over a period of years.