Yoga provides great a mental and physical workout


Andrea Elsholz, Features Editor

Exercise can be highly associated with pain and stress. High intensity workouts that focus on pushing people to their edge can make it very difficult for people who are just starting to build an exercise routine. But in reality, a good workout doesn’t need to be super intense and exhausting. In fact, research suggests that yoga can do a surprising amount for the body. 

“Yoga to me means a quiet place,” Sheila Crider, a yoga instructor at Divine Yoga, said. “A place to breathe, stretch my body, and listen to my spirit. I feel like if you just start moving it gets the blood flowing, gets your mind thinking differently, it begins to give you hope.”

Yoga is a form of exercise deeply rooted in the practice of mindfulness, balance and peace. It works on strengthening without straining the body or causing pain. Harvard Medical School’s published report on the benefits of yoga highlights the goal of yoga practice as one to “challenge yourself physically, but not to feel overwhelmed.” 

“I was a runner and weightlifter and it always seemed like I had constant injuries,” Crider said. “With yoga, if it’s not practiced correctly, you can hurt yourself, so I’m not saying you can’t have pain and injuries, but it’s more slow moving. You really start to breathe and get to know yourself versus running and weightlifting. Those are more of a physical workout instead of a full body, spiritual mental workout.”

A study reported in the Journal of the American Medicine Association (JAMA) revealed that yoga can help relieve symptoms of chronic pain. Before practicing yoga, Crider had gotten into a bad car accident that left her in a walker. But through daily practice, Crider discovered yoga’s dramatic rehabilitation properties for both the spiritual and mental state.

“My son was in college playing college football and they had to do yoga to stay strong and so when he came home to see me he recommended that I do yoga,” Crider said. “I was a mess; I couldn’t climb stairs. I just bought a little dvd and started it in my basement and cried my way through it until I got stronger and stronger and then I became an instructor.”

Yoga can have a big spiritual aspect to it as well. Divine Yoga, where Crider teaches, is a Christian yoga studio founded in Fenton that teaches biblical passages alongside the workout. The studio, having lost the lease to their building, has taken the opportunity to expand online, including YouTube videos on their channel, Divine Yoga Studio Online. 

“I think because we were a christian yoga studio we were a bit different from any other yoga studio in that we felt like we not only got people stronger in their bodies, we breathed life into their spirit,” Crider said. “It wasn’t just that they went to yoga and got a good workout. That’s where I feel like Divine Yoga blessed the community. I miss the touch and the breathing and hearing that part of it, that’s what I miss is the community of yoga coming in there and breathing together and using each other’s spirit to build one another up.” 

Mindfulness, a skill centered on awareness and appreciation for the present moment and developed through yogic practices has positive long-term effects on well-being. 

“Mindfulness is a scary word,” Crider said, “because our minds are full of what? Full of noise: full of what the world says we should be, or what the world says we are or what we say we are, which is mostly damaging words. So it’s that time on the mat with Christian yoga where someone says you are beautifully and wonderfully made, you are strong, God is with you, do not fear. Those are powerful words and that’s what you want to fill your mind with.’”

Yoga is a cost effective way to exercise indoors or outdoors, with body weight workouts that rarely ever require equipment. Although studios are currently closed, many are posting videos online. Divine yoga is posting free sessions on YouTube. Visit for more information.