By Jann Wiswall

Power yoga has been gaining popularity around the country for many years, and now, thanks to Marie Phillips, it is available every weekend in Ellicottville at Core Performance Fitness.

“Power yoga really is for everyone of every ability level,” said Phillips. “You don’t need to have previous yoga experience – you don’t even need to be able to sit in the lotus position. All you need is a desire to connect with yourself using the power of your mind and body.”

Phillips teaches using the Baptiste Power Vinyasa Yoga methodology – a more physical variation of the more commonly known hatha yoga technique with less emphasis on the spiritual side. With Baptiste Power Yoga, participants focus on breathing – “every inhale and exhale is linked to every move you make,” said Phillips.

Phillips guides participants through a 75-minute program of physical exercises in a room heated to 85 degrees.

“The temperature is intended to keep your muscles warm so your body can do what you want it to do, but at the same time the warmth protects you from injury,” she said.

Each participant can work at his/her own level – the goal is not to worry about perfecting poses or competing with others. It’s about each person connecting with their own body.

“No matter what you have going on in your life, this is about being present in the moment and working to slow down your mind and pay attention to your body. Most people feel calmer afterwards,” said Phillips.

Phillips, who was a competitive snowboarder and rower, a former snowboarding coach at Holiday Valley and a former rowing coach at Westside Rowing Club in Buffalo, now works as a strength and conditioning coach for athletes of all kinds. With a Bachelor of Science degree in Health Care Studies, she is a certified personal trainer through the National Academy of Sports Medicine and is nearing completion of her certification as a Baptiste Power Yoga instructor. She believes that learning the tools and practicing power yoga helps in the healing process.

“Doctors increasingly recommend yoga for people with injuries, illnesses, pain, etc., as a way to work on their total health and wellness, wean themselves off of their medications, strengthen the muscles around surgical sites or manage stress and anxiety,” said Phillips. “That’s why this program really is for anyone. If you can’t sit on the floor, I’ll get you a chair. The only requirement is to try.

“Athletes also benefit because they learn to become more aware of where their body is at all times. Imagine a snowboarder doing a rodeo. Being aware of the exact location of board and feet and ground in relation to one another at all times is essential. Power yoga really helps athletes focus, breathe and stay calm in such stressful situations.”

Power yoga classes began Friday, Feb. 8 at Core Performance, with six people in attendance the first day. Participants over the weekend ranged in age from 40-65.

According to Phillips, “One woman hadn’t practiced in years, but she ended up coming to every class all weekend!”

Classes are offered on Fridays at 6 p.m. and Saturdays at 10 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. Sunday classes will be added soon.

Preregistration is not required. All you need to bring is a mat, water and a towel, and if you don’t have a mat, Core Performance can loan you one. A single 75-minute class is $18. You can purchase a weekend package for as many classes as you want to attend for $30. And through the rest of February, there’s a special package of unlimited classes for just $35.

For more information, contact Marie Phillips at (716) 998-9069.

Core Performance Fitness is located at 33 Bristol Lane in the new Ellicottville Square Building (near EVL Bowling).

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