Leslie Sims has been teaching yoga more than 25 years. After completing her yoga class at the Hillview Center last week, she asked her 25 students, "Are you all right? Do your legs hurt? The outcome for each individual has infinite possibilities."
Yoga is taught year-round at the Hillview Center through Mountain View-Los Altos Adult Education. The same facilities are used by the Los Altos Recreation Department for its yoga classes.
"There is one yoga but many styles," Sims said. "I try to teach the correct action for any style of yoga but prefer teaching Buddhist yoga. It's all about body, breath and mind. Practicing yoga cultivates strength, endurance, flexibility and relaxation.
"After you choose a teacher, you must have faith in yourself and the teacher," she said. "Don't worry and keep checking on whether there is improvement every time you practice. The body and mind need time to change and develop."
Sims said she teaches yoga every day in different locations, and that it's essential to practice daily. "A half-hour practice is fine, but you have to come to my class. To get any good out of it, you should practice 20 minutes every single day."
"I think you either use it or lose it," said Karen Duncan, a Los Altos resident. "This class makes me stronger and more flexible, and I feel great when I leave here."
Mike Bruno, another Los Altos resident, said he took yoga as an adjunct to aerobic exercise and it's totally different. "This is an ache-and-pain class that teaches you how to stand," he said.
Kay Bonegas of Mountain View has been taking the class for three months. "I love this class because it does me a lot of good," she said. "I have a weak right hip, and it stretches the muscles of my hip. I notice a big difference in the three months I've practiced yoga."
Sims said yoga is a powerful tool for relieving stress and bringing about peace and calm in daily life. It helps strengthen the body and increases vitality.
Sims told a student, "Your leg position is wonderful. Your knees should never be locked. As we get older we begin to dry up in our joints."
When people start practicing yoga, the most difficult aspect to change is perception. "It's the difference of walking up a hill or walking down a hill," Sims said. "Your perception is broadened. Practice balances the energies of ha and tha, the sun and moon, feminine and masculine, active and passive, or yin and yang."
Sims is a 55-year resident of Los Altos. "I went to the Los Altos Elementary School years ago in this same location," she said.
Jan Truit, a Los Altos resident who has been practicing yoga for 30 years, said, "I find it provides me with a quiet mind and a limber body. I love it."
Although there are many styles of yoga, the differences are usually in emphasis, focusing on strict alignment of the body, coordination of breath and movement, and holding the postures or flowing from one posture to another.
There are seven more yoga classes in the current spring session. The summer session will begin with a class at 10:30 a.m., June 16, in the Hillview Center Social Room. To enroll, call Linda McCrary at 940-1333 or logon to www.mvlaae.org.