KENNEWICK -- Todd Shepard of Kennewick got his first taste of yoga Friday. It might not be his last.
"I really enjoyed this," he said. "I might do this more often. It's very relaxing and it's like having a Friday day date with my wife."
Shepard, 46, and his wife Angie, 39, along with four other people, spent 90 minutes in Heather Anastos' "Yoga Stress Buster" class.
Anastos has been teaching yoga for about 10 years. She began offering the once-a-week stress buster class, which is separate from her regular yoga sessions, about six months ago because she knows all about how stressful life can be.
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"I started taking yoga after an injury, and a friend dragged me to her yoga class," Anastos said. "It changed my life."
She admits that was an amazing feat.
"Having a type-A personality means I really needed to learn how to relax," she added with a chuckle. "And I was absolutely amazed how well it worked for me."
Hectic holiday shopping, frigid weather, icy highways and streets and a few goofball drivers on the roads to look out for can elevate anyone's stress level.
Chris Craven, 62, of Pasco, has been relaxing and clearing her mind with yoga for a while.
The stress buster class is a blessing, she said, because after a while the body craves it.
"I was feeling really trapped with all this snow and not getting out of the house," she said. "I feel so much better after this class."
Brigette Wetle of Kennewick feels much the same.
"I've been taking yoga for about five years now and have increased my flexibility so much and it helps me relax," Wetle said. "Especially with the holidays approaching and all this bad weather."
Andrea Clark, 30, drives all the way from Grandview to attend Anastos' yoga class, even when there's snow and ice on the roads.
"The roads weren't so bad today," Clark said. "I had to be up here anyway, so coming to yoga seemed like a good idea."
Yoga is not meant to be just a calming exercise but to bring balance to your life, Anastos said.
She guided her pupils through stretching exercises Friday that are meant to limber the body and free the soul, she explained.
"When you're feeling stressed, frazzled, letting go of the stress can be a challenge but also therapeutic," Anastos told her class.
She offers her Yoga Stress Buster class once a week for her regular yoga students. But she welcomes drop-ins as well for a fee of $14. More information is online at www.theyogacommunity.com or by calling 521-4287.
"Stress busters yoga class is focused on gentle stretches, relaxation techniques and meditation to release stress and achieve a peaceful state," Anastos said.
What that means is yoga allows the tensions that come with the holidays to be replaced by a quiet, honest understanding of what the season represents in your life, she added.