http://pleasantonweekly.com/print/story/print/2012/06/01/everybody-can-do-yoga-says-studio-owner


Pleasanton Weekly

- June 1, 2012

'Everybody can do yoga, says studio owner'

Spend quality time with yourself at yoga to relieve stress, become energized

by Dolores Fox Ciardelli

People inquiring about yoga classes often mention stress, said Kate Coughlin, owner of Downtown Yoga on Main Street and Division. She knows that yoga will help.

"I think yoga relieves stress because -- even though you're in a group and with a teacher viewing your poses -- it's quality time with yourself," Coughlin explained.

She doesn't consider it an exercise, although it does all the same good things. But yoga focuses on the wholeness of the body.

"At the end you feel really filled up, your heart and body and mind are all in the same place. You're alive and present," she said.

Baby boomers are finding their way to Downtown Yoga in droves, noted Kate's husband, Jim.

'The typical new person is middle-aged, saying to themselves, 'I've got to do something.' They realize they're not going to go run marathons anymore but they have to do some kind of activity to maintain their flexibility --and to feel good.

"They just don't feel as good any more. They feel sluggish and tight, disconnected, withdrawn," he continued.

Scientific studies show that yoga, while firming the muscles and with its relaxed breathing, releases a natural anti-inflammatory so people feel better, he said.

"They'll say, 'Gosh, my shoulder doesn't hurt any more,' or 'My hip doesn't hurt any more.'"

Another great thing about yoga, said Jim Coughlin, is it can be practiced by all ages, from early childhood to old, old age.

"If you decide it's right for you it can be sustainable for the rest of your life," he said. "You can practice until you're 100 -- and some do."

Downtown Yoga has an Introduction to Yoga series that meets for an hour and a half for eight classes; cost is $112. It is limited to 30 people and sells out every time, said Kate Coughlin.

"We also have beginning classes that are open to everybody," she said.

But taking the series guarantees there will not be gaps in your practice, she explained, plus it's nice to learn with other stark beginners.

Wear comfortable clothing, she advised, nothing binding, and the studio has everything you need. It also has yoga mats and props for sale. Also, it's best to practice on an empty stomach.

"Beginning classes are very 'safe,'" Kate said. "Many are fearful, they think they will be the stiffest one there. But in the beginning you don't push yourself too much."

"All levels go back and take beginning classes," she said. "A comforting, relaxing class is fabulous."

"There's a whole science in how we put a class together -- you are active and then you restore," she noted. "Afterward you feel energized, not worn out. You should feel whole."

Coughlin developed the yoga curriculum at Stanford University in 1990-91. She was hired to teach aerobics and dancing but noticed that the students were very stressed. The department head immediately saw the benefits and gave the go-ahead.

"Over 100 students showed up for the first class," Coughlin recalled. "It was born overnight. We divided those 100 students into four classes."

When the Coughlins moved to Pleasanton for his job in 2000, they embraced the community and enrolled their twin daughters at Hearst Elementary. There was no yoga studio in town, and Jim thought Kate should open her own studio but she began teaching at health clubs and in a yoga studio in Danville.

Then one evening after dinner downtown they noted the brick building at 220 Division St. where a photographer had his studio, which they agreed would be perfect for yoga.

"The next day there was a 'for rent' sign in the window," Kate said.

"We've been there 10 years and taught over 20,000 classes," Jim said. "We have 400-500 people a week. We're a community, we're good friends."

Last June they expanded by renting adjacent space that opens onto 550 Main St. Kate said she never felt confined in the smaller studio but now she likes having more rooms for classes and a small cheerful office.

Pleasanton Downtown Yoga also offers meditation, women's yoga studies, advanced studies that include anatomy classes, plus yearly retreat programs to India and Mexico to practice yoga.

"I love this community that has formed here," Kate said. "It's a soft, warm, caring environment. The focus is attention on the individual students. It's a good place to be."

Comments

Posted by Jim Coughlin, a resident of Downtown
on Jun 1, 2012 at 9:29 am

Thanks Dolores - for a wonderfully written and timely article. We really appreciate the favorable press. - Jim


Posted by Jodi Torres, a resident of Foothill High School
on Jun 1, 2012 at 10:20 am

This is a wonderful studio with great owners, teachers and a wonderful community of diverse and kind students. Thanks for being there!


Posted by Inge, a resident of Rosepointe
on Jun 1, 2012 at 10:38 am

I love Downtown Yoga! I go there four times a week, and it has done wonders for my body! The teachers are amazing - kind and knowledgeable. Yoga has simultaneously strengthened and stretched my muscles, and it's calming to my mind.


Posted by Kay, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jun 1, 2012 at 10:42 am

I could not agree with Jodi more! I go twice a week and it has made a big difference in my life. Love the teachers and the downtown location.


Posted by Lia, a resident of Livermore
on Jun 1, 2012 at 10:45 am

I am very grateful for my 6am class with Jim during any weekday. I have been to a few workshops there also, and just love the energy of the studio. Thanks for bringing to us this wonderful community. :)


Posted by Sue, a resident of Livermore
on Jun 1, 2012 at 5:49 pm

I am so glad I found Downtown Yoga - I've only been doing yoga for about 8 months - started in Kate's Intro class. I will continue to go for classes there for as long as they have them!


Posted by Natascha Thomson, a resident of Vintage Hills Elementary School
on Jun 3, 2012 at 8:10 pm

Great article! And I can attest first hand that Downtown Yoga is an amazing studio. Kate & Jim are my gurus, only without the attitude.

Best,

Natascha


Posted by Georganne, a resident of Livermore
on Jun 27, 2012 at 12:43 pm

I can not say enough good things about Downtown Yoga. Jim and Kate as well as the rest of the instructors will embrace you with their warmth and support from the moment you step in the door. It's a wonderful door to step through!


Posted by Arnold, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jun 27, 2012 at 1:16 pm

I was an enthusiastic participant in yoga sessions until repeated encounters with bad odors that seemed to form a tide that enveloped me to the point of nausea. What is wrong with people? As people are forced to pay increasing taxes because of swelling unsustainables, they must eat more fast food and canned products (e.g. Beans). This is no idle claim, as I have spent much time calculating the actuarial likelihood of such an eventuality. Upshot: yoga classes will succumb to the rising tides of unpleasant odors produced by those in one's vicinity.