Picture this: You’re standing on a beach on a misty morning, gazing out at the ocean, your toes buried in the soft sand. Small waves lap at the shore, their watery rhythm a counterpoint to your slow, even breath.
This is the setting Teresa Singh chose for her outdoor, rope-based yoga class, one of Santa Barbara’s newest fitness offerings. Saturday mornings at 8 a.m., a group gathers on the sand near the East Beach Grill. They begin by standing still, facing the Pacific with their hands at their sides. As the class progresses, each student takes a danda, a T-shaped metal pole from which two thick ropes trail. By turning the T upside down and placing it in the sand, you get a unique yoga prop-a stabilizer for balances and stretches, and an extra challenge for core strength training.
Teresa and her husband, Jasprit Singh, are the founders of RussaYog (“rope yoga” in Punjabi), a rope-based yoga practice developed out of decades of experience in various styles of yoga as well as other exercise and weight-training regimens. Last March, they opened a studio on the Mesa, where they teach 16 classes a week in addition to private lessons. They’re also branching into offering rope-based yoga classes in the workplace and classes for children. Teresa launched the East Beach class just three weeks ago, and has had a good turnout so far. Some of her students are familiar with rope-based yoga from the Singhs’ studio classes, but others are new to the style or new to yoga entirely. “You do not have to have done yoga before,” she assured potential students. “You can come to a class to observe, and you can go at your own pace.”
Teresa and Jasprit founded their first rope-based yoga studio in Ann Arbor, Michigan, where Jasprit is still based part-time. Born and raised in New Delhi, he was always interested in physical fitness, and was inspired by the combination of strength and flexibility of the rope, a symbol that is central to Indian creation mythology. The Singhs have obtained U.S. patents for both the ordinary danda and a more elaborate version designed for people who need more stability. Among their students is an 87-year-old woman who does the poses while seated in a chair, and uses the danda to build core strength.
But the new East Beach class is where Teresa gets to exercise her commitment to “Public Displays of Yoga,” or PDY. “We all need to take charge of our own health and well-being,” she explained. “By doing PDY, which improves your fitness level while also focusing on self-awareness, you will feel like a positive agent of change in the culture around you.” She sees yoga on the beach as a “performance that can encourage others to step away from their desks, then return feeling recharged: physically, mentally, and emotionally.”
For info and a class schedule, call 448-1320 or visit russayog.com.