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A fresh outlook on yoga

Sunday, April 27th, 2014 | Posted by | 2 responses
Amy Charnay, center, checks her students' poses during an aerial yoga class at Yoga Paradise in Windsor.   (Crista Jeremiason / The Press Democrat)

Amy Charnay, center, checks her students’ poses during an aerial yoga class at Yoga Paradise in Windsor. (Crista Jeremiason / The Press Democrat)

By JAMES LANARAS / Windsor Correspondent

Yoga practitioners are hanging out, literally, at Brian and Sandy Seekins’ Yoga Paradise in Windsor.

They’re busy doing Unnata aerial yoga, their body weight supported in colorful silk circus hammocks while they hold traditional yoga poses.

Yoga Paradise is one of several dozen studios in the country to offer Unnata classes. Fans say it is beneficial for both novice and experienced yoga practitioners.

“It’s more common in Australia and Europe,” said Amy Charnay, who teaches the classes. “My training was very European-based.” Charnay also holds a master’s degree in herbal medicine from Maryland University of Integrated Health.

Amy Charnay, right, demonstrates a yoga pose while supported by a silk hammock.   (Crista Jeremiason / The Press Democrat)

Amy Charnay, right, demonstrates a yoga pose while supported by a silk hammock. (Crista Jeremiason / The Press Democrat)

Unnata yoga was invented in New York City in 2006 by Michelle Dortignac, a professional aerialist and acrobatic performer who used hammocks as props to relieve tension, take pressure off joints and relax the nervous system.

When used for Unnata yoga, they allow gravity to reduce the weight on joints and the spine while also encouraging the lymph system to shed chemicals and heavy metals, Charnay said.

The hammocks are designed to hold up to 1,000 pounds each, she said. “You have to trust the hammock, that it’s safe.”

Co-owner Sandy Seekins said Unnata yoga “helps deepen your practice and posture.” It can also give students a fresh outlook on an ancient discipline.

The 647-square-foot aerial yoga studio faces east, providing students in the 6 a.m. classes a view of the sun rising over the foothills. Even the sight of a dozen silk hammocks hanging from the ceiling can be hard to resist.

“When you get upside down and let go for the first time, you giggle,” co-owner Brian Seekins said.

Sandy, 39, said she enjoys dance and movement but didn’t like the gym atmosphere. A friend suggested she look into yoga 10years ago, and she has been doing it ever since. She also works full-time for a construction company.

Kaiti Dunker checks her cell phone during an aerial yoga class.

Kaiti Dunker checks her cell phone during an aerial yoga class.

Brian, 36, was an environmental health and safety specialist until 2013. He spent a decade with the Coast Guard, overseeing the cleanup of oil spills and of debris left by tsunamis. In 2011, he took a job as health and safety manager at the General Chemical sulfuric acid refinery in Richmond.

The couple moved to Windsor in 2012 and began searching for a place to open their business in Santa Rosa and Healdsburg. They found the 3,300-square-foot space in Plaza Building on Lakewood Drive and opened Yoga Paradise on March 1.

In addition to the aerial yoga classes, the studio’s four yoga instructors teach power vinyasa, Forrest, vinyasa hot flow, hot core strength vinyasa, vanilla, senior and parent-and-child yoga classes.

“The hardest part of yoga practice is finding the time,” Sandy said. “We have a lot of different styles and many opportunities to come more frequently. That was our intention.”

Along with the aerial yoga studio, the owners built a 650-square-foot studio that can be heated to between 90 and 98 degrees for 75- to 90-minute hot yoga classes.

Yoga Paradise also has six independent contractors who offer massage, acupuncture, nutrition, herbal and reflexology services.

Yoga Paradise is located at 8911 Lakewood Drive, Suite 26. Info: 620-0722, yogaparadisestudio.com. It is open 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. weekdays, 7 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Saturdays and 9 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Sundays. Cost is $12 for drop-in classes, $100 for a month of unlimited classes.

2 Comments for “A fresh outlook on yoga”

  1. Rebecca Leonard

    Very informative article with stunning pictures. Thank you!

  2. Sandy & Brian; What a nice setup! Everything looks great, maybe we can come over one day and have a look in person. We wish you great success. Thanks for sending the info to us. Keep us in the loop with what is going on.
    Come to see us when you are down this way.
    Happy Mother’s Day
    Love Lucy

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James Lanaras is our Windsor correspondent.
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