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New Warrior Yoga class expands physical fitness options

by Senior Airman Robin Drake
Thunderbolt staff writer

Army Lt. Col. James Eicher, Warrior Yoga instructor, guides his Wednesday class through the physical and mental aspects of Yoga.

Staff Sgt. Randy Redman

Whether an individual prefers a conventional workout session consisting of running, strength training or a sports program, the Fitness Center here has a variety of options available. Those patrons who are interested in supplementing their typical routine may now participate in a new class called Warrior Yoga.

Warrior Yoga uses components derived from the ancient system of Ashtanga Yoga. It includes various stretching and exercise movements, and specific breathing techniques to help with the union of the body, mind and spirit, said Army Lt. Col. James Eicher, Special Operations Command Reserve Affairs law chief.

Some believe Yoga was founded by a man named Pantanjali. His beliefs are compiled into a work called "The Yoga Sutras of Pantanjali," which is considered to be the fundamental text on the system of Yoga.

"Yoga is not a religion, but a calmness of the mind," said Colonel Eicher. "It helps you to handle stress better."

Asthanga Yoga, which is one of the many variations of the exercise, originates from the Hindu culture. When translated it literally means "eight limbs of yoga."

"In class we focus on using the third limb of Patanjali's practices called asana (body posture)," said Colonel Eicher. "With asana's, we limber up the body by moving into various positions."

The movements used in class are all natural movements for the body and there is no additional equipment needed.

To perform each asana correctly an individual must also include a specific breathing technique performed with each movement. Each breath taken should be steady and even. The length of each inhale and exhale should also be the same.

With just a little bit of knowledge on how Yoga works, an individual can use it at any time and in any place, said Colonel Eicher.

There are no pre-requisites for the class. However, an individual who has any pre-existing physical issues or is pregnant should consult a physician prior to attending.

Anyone who is into physical fitness can utilize the movements incorporated in Yoga. It helps an individual recover faster from a hard workout and makes them less susceptible to injury, said Colonel Eicher, adding it also helps with strengthening, toning and allowing for more flexibility of the muscles.

In addition to enhancing a workout session, Yoga can also be used to help alleviate the everyday aches and pains, said Colonel Eicher, who has been practicing Yoga since 1993.

"You are as young as your spine is flexible," chuckled Colonel Eicher. "As I get older my PT becomes less Physical Training and more Physical Therapy."

At 47, he said he doesn't have the average aches and pains which come with age and attributes his flexibility to his practice with Yoga.

Yoga is a form of exercise but it is not meant to replace an individual's workout, said Colonel Eicher. "Yoga is the cherry on your fitness parfait. It enhances whatever sport or activity you're doing."

The Warrior Yoga class is offered on Wednesday's from 11:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. in the aerobics room of the Fitness Center.

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