Yoga is often an indoor activity, but instructor Sarah Acord has taken the discipline outdoors, offering classes at the Highfields Event Center in Aiken in moderate weather, with strategic timing to take advantage of the dawn and of dusk.
Some recent chilly mornings have halted sessions at dawn, but evening classes will be on the schedule at the equestrian facility until the weather dictates otherwise as Aiken enters the relatively cold months. All ages and levels of experience are welcome.
Acord, who is also a competitive equestrian and owns Aiken Yoga, a studio on Pendleton Street, can talk about the benefits of yoga from a very personal perspective.
The benefits are largely based on the fact that “we all go through so much stress and 95% of all disease is stress-induced, so it’s probably the single most important thing for your central nervous system,” a- she declared.
“On top of that, when you build that mind-body connection, you expand awareness and you’re going to make better decisions in your relationships, in your health, in everything.”
The dawn and dusk classes, which began in September, were largely in response to people’s interest in having a healthier option in the face of COVID-19 and subsequent guidelines and requirements for people to at least put a few meters between themselves and their neighbors, for security reasons.
Acord’s experience includes 17 years of service as an Aiken Regional Medical Centers nurse, including time in the emergency room and intensive care unit. She also received intensive medical care.
“I broke my back. I fell off my horse,” she said, recalling an accident in 2007.
“I couldn’t turn. I couldn’t turn my head to back my car up, and my mom was dead. It was kind of like two things at once, and I was like, ‘OK, I think that the universe is trying to get my attention, that I need to take better care of myself.'”
Yoga was part of her healing process and she got her teacher training in 2008. These days she puts that into action outdoors at 6.30pm on Mondays.
Describing the discipline, she said: “It’s not a religion. Yoga actually means ‘yoke’, so it’s a union of yourself, and it’s really the study of yourself. It It’s not just about becoming flexible and flexible. It’s how you respond and react to people and situations, and you use that in your day-to-day life as well.”
Classes at the Highfields facility on Gaston Road last approximately 45 minutes, cost $15 each and are included in some studio packages. Participants are requested to bring a mat and appropriate clothing. Acord said outdoor classes will take a break in cooler weather and likely resume in the spring.