Kari Stengrim (right) operates a yoga/pilates studio at the Fine Line Hair Design in Brainerd. Stengrim worked one on one with Fine Line owner Kathy Bjork and teaches yoga/pilates to athletes and individuals in the area.Brainerd Dispatch/Nels Norquist
One of the misperceptions of yoga is that of a person sitting on a mat, legs folded, eyes closed, chanting or meditating.
All of those are components of yoga but don't scratch the surface of what yoga entails.
Kari Stengrim, who has opened a yoga/pilates studio in Brainerd, is attempting to educate the lakes area as to what yoga is while offering it to athletic teams and individuals.
"I think people's perception of yoga and pilates is sitting still, chanting, or not sweating," Stengrim said. "I can get you to sweat but the bottom line is I need to teach you how to be in your core. Your core is all of your abdominal muscles, your inner and outer thighs, your (butt) muscles and your lower back.
"Before I can move people into the sweaty, kick-your-butt yoga, they need to learn how to be in their body. I think the misconception is people want a good workout coming from an athlete mind frame. Some of this stuff is harder than any college workout I did in the pool, or running."
"You're going to hit the ball so much farther if you let it come from your core rather than just your shoulder joint."
Describing the value of yoga to golfers
High school: Bloomington Jefferson
College: Northern Michigan University
Fall yoga/pilates classes: Begin Sept. 7; Mondays and Wednesdays 4:30 to 5:30 p.m. and 5:45 to 6:45 p.m.; Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays 9:30 to 10:30 a.m., fee $12.
Location: Fine Line Hair Design, Brainerd
Yoga focuses on a person's breathing, as well as mind, body and spirit. Stengrim teaches active/cardiovascular types of yoga and as well as restorative yoga.
"Asanas," or poses that can be maintained for a length of time, is one of the active types of yoga she teaches.
Pilates focuses on an individual's "core," and includes serious exercise.
"The theory behind pilates is you're strong from the inside out," Stengrim said.
She has also worked in conjunction with chiropractors and physical therapists to increase patients' core strength and range of motion.
She also has worked with the Brainerd High School girls' golf team, students in Chris Foley Golf Schools and with guests at Grand View Lodge.
"In golf, it's more range of motion, strength from your core," Stengrim said. "When you're going to tee off, your drive needs to come from (abdominal muscles) more than from your shoulders. You're going to hit the ball so much farther if you let it come from your core rather than just your shoulder joint."
Stengrim worked with the Warriors once a week, doing about 30 minutes each of yoga and pilates. Warriors coach Jean Martin thought the sessions benefited flexibility and swing and hopes to receive Stengrim's instruction more frequently next season.
"Some of the girls had done pilates before, some were new at it," Martin said. "Those who had done it before loved it. Those who had never done it before loved it too."
Foley said Stengrim instructed his students in yoga. He believes the trend for golfers is better fitness, improved strength and range of motion.
"When Kari came to town we talked about it and I got pretty excited about it," Foley said. "We tried it at a few schools at the beginning of the year and it was really popular.
"Each day we would break for lunch and Kari would come in for half an hour and work with students. It was mainly for stretching but we talked about strength as well. We hope next year to expand it beyond just doing it for our schools."
Brainerd Dispatch/Nels Norquist
Stengrim moved to Brainerd from the Twin Cities, where she was in the fitness industry for more than 10 years, teaching yoga and pilates the last four. She was an independent contractor, going to companies during and after work and teaching in private studios, athletic clubs and in people's homes.
She believes there is a market for yoga and pilates in a smaller city like Brainerd. In the Twin Cities she said the number of yoga studios is growing "like wild fire."
"I didn't ever once promote myself," she said. "I would just get calls and business through word of mouth. I was always busy and so grateful for the work. It would come to me."
Stengrim is willing to be mobile to secure business area but would prefer to see her studio take off.
"I'm teaching to who's here," she said. "I think there's kind of a fear that people have to be in shape. I take all levels, all ages, injured or not. I have the ability to modify everything."
Stengrim has secured a cozy studio on the top floor of the Fine Line Hair Design building in Brainerd. The room is painted sky blue and includes a lushly finished wood floor and nooks.
"I would love to (branch out), but ideally this is such a great place," she said. "I would love to have people come to me of all ages. I would like Brainerd's population as a whole, Baxter and all the surrounding areas, to know this is here.
"I want people just to come and try it. I really feel like if I can just get them to try it once they will understand how it can benefit their performance and their life, whether they're young, old, athletes or just regular people."
Mike Bialka can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or at 855-5861.
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