Corinne Szepesi, instructor at Good Karma Yoga, has been doing yoga for more than 20 years. She first got involved with yoga after hearing how great it was to improve flexibility. At the time, Szepesi was running and weightlifting to stay fit and thought yoga would be another good way to cross-train.
Szepesi said that she, like many yoga practitioners, started practicing yoga for the health benefits. What she got out of it, was much more.
“I was totally blown away,” said Szepesi. She went on to say that she also received benefits to her mental and spiritual well-being through yoga.
“It’s all connected. What happens to your mind happens to your body and what happens to your body affects your mind.”
Yoga is great for more than just improving flexibility. Szepesi said that many yoga poses, for example a plank pose, use the body’s weight against itself which also benefits strength, stamina and endurance. While yoga can yield many physical benefits, it is really about making that mind-body connection, added Szepesi.
Szepesi’s interest in yoga quickly deepened, and she began practicing different types of yoga, like minyasa, hatha and power-flow yoga. She said the difference between these methods is largely what postures (or asnas as they are referred to in yoga) practitioners do and how they transition between them.
Today, Szepesi primarily teaches and practices akhanda yoga. Szepesi said this a very holistic and traditional type of yoga and closely resembles yoga as it was first taught in India.
In akhanda yoga, practitioners make all six directional movements the spine is able to do, but the sequencing is very balanced to help prevent injury and ensure easy transition, said Szepesi.
Other methods of yoga, like the free-flowing minyasa, can be less balanced and a bit harsher on the body, she added.
Szepesi first got her certification to instruct yoga in 2009. She said she wanted to start teaching as a way to further deepen her experience with yoga and share its benefits. “I just wanted to share it with other people. I saw the benefits from my own body and how I felt and how it affected me.”
One of the things Szepesi said she enjoys most about practicing and teaching akhanda yoga is how she is able to apply its practices to everyday life and teach others to do the same. For example, Szepesi said that certain asnas in yoga can help to identify where people physical hold stress in their bodies and therefore can help them to deal with such issues in everyday life.
Everyone, particularly Albertans, are incredibly busy all the time, said Szepesi. Another enjoyable thing about yoga is that it allows people to take time out to just breathe. “We’re all very busy people. It’s like everyone is on this little treadmill.”
Yoga can also be attractive to people who are not fond of competitive sports. Szepesi said it can cater to people of any age, fitness and skill level and is completely non-competitive. She added that while there is nothing wrong with competition, it’s nice to be able to do something where competition is not necessary.
In addition to her main practice, akhanda yoga, Szepesi also teaches restorative yoga, which is beneficial for those who have suffered sport injuries. Szepesi said it is a good way to get people re-introduced to physical activity very gently.