Stretch out and wait

They sat facing the ceiling, kind of, with their feet on the wall, their necks on the floor, their backs on metal folding chairs, and their shoulders and arms stretched out along the hardwood floor.

Music played softly in the yoga studio while the eight students held their position for minute after minute after minute.

"Whatever the ability, we can enjoy the flexibility of the spine," Elyse Briggs told her students. "If you can relax in a position that's theoretically frightening, then you can relax when someone cuts you off at a stop sign.

"It's the same training."

But Yoga at the Village's training is a blend of yoga and muscle therapy, as Briggs, the studio owner and instructor, said her exercises are designed to isolate and ameliorate body pains.

"We hold poses for longer and get them to think about what's working in their bodies," she said after class. "It's about the interaction of what's going on and how breathing can help you."

The breathing is one thing, but the physical workout has contributed to Joan Hardie's recovery from hip surgery two months ago, she said.

"It's helped me work through that initial pain and limitations you get with surgery," the Glendale resident said. "This has helped me get my confidence back."

The studio is open seven days a week, with different classes throughout each day. The studio's instructors all have a background in anatomy and physiology, training that helps them fuse yoga principles with rehabilitation movements, Briggs said.

"People come here not because it's yoga, but because moving mindfully through yoga can help the body heal itself if the body's able to," she said. "It's a way of working."

For some students, like Olga Albuerne, it's also a way of living.

"It's a great workout, and it makes me feel great," she said.

Albuerne and the other students began a complicated pull up exercise Briggs called a spinal flexion. Using elastic ropes, the students would perform sitting pull ups, while keeping their arms and legs straight.

After their repetitions, Briggs offered encouragement during a tranquil cool-down.

"Allow your shoulders to drop to the Earth, being acutely aware of where you are making movement, you're aware of where you're making contact with the Earth," she said. "We take the practice into our lives."

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