There may be no better advertisement for a yoga studio than an instructor with a strong, supple body and a truly centered, peaceful presence. A serious, six-day-a-week devotee of astanga yoga since 1994, Melanie Fawer is just such an instructor. Since opening The Yoga Room (1138 S. Carrollton Ave., 813-3738) in 2002, she's been helping others practice their way to the same mind-body benefits.
"No other yoga integrates the breathing with the movement in such a specific way," says Fawer, who travels to India annually to study under yoga master Sri K. Pattabhi Jois. She also is one of only a handful of women in the United States to be certified by Jois to teach astanga. "It's very self-contained, very meditative. The focus becomes what yoga is about -- the breath."
Classes at The Yoga Room are given Mysore style (the traditional method taught by Jois in Mysore, India), meaning that students receive one-on-one, individually tailored instruction in a group setting. Each student learns astanga's sequence of poses or "asanas" and coordinated breaths one at a time and practices the sequence at his or her own rate, moving fluidly from one pose to the next. As a result, all classes are suited to levels from beginner to advanced, and students can practice on their own at home.
"The idea behind astanga is to bring the mind and the body into unison," says Fawer. "If you can bring your awareness into your breathing, the focus of the mind changes, and that's very empowering." Because astanga is weight-bearing and aerobic, many students find it suffices as their sole form of exercise. Because its breathing style generates heat in the body, it also promotes flexibility, energy and core strength.
In addition to classes, Fawer sells her own DVD set, which includes both an instructional DVD and a practice DVD. For more information, visit www.astangayogaroom.com. Prospective students also may observe a class.
International Adoption Seminar
On Thursday, Nov. 30, Ochsner will host a seminar for individuals interested in international adoption and for those who have already adopted children from other countries. From 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. at Ochsner Children's Health Center (1315 Jefferson Hwy.) a speaker will address transitional issues affecting children coming from orphanages. For more information, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Instructor/owner Melanie Fawer teaches students the mind- body benefits of yoga at The Yoga Room.