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Story Last modified at 10:18 p.m. on Wednesday, February 9, 2011

A new twist on Valentine's Day

BY CHRIS LUNDGREN
For the Star

When 5-foot-2 Connie Bennett placed herself back-to-back with her 6-foot-2 husband, Craig Bennett, in couples' yoga class last fall, they had a hard time containing their laughter.

"It seemed a little weird at first," she said. "But it turned out to be fun."

photo:News


Connie had been taking regular yoga classes for about a year from Mary McCormick at McCormick's studio, All Life is Yoga, in Eagle River. McCormick's once-a-month couples' yoga session sounded like a good way to get Craig involved.

"He had a blast," she said. "We're going back."

Luckily for the Bennetts, McCormick has scheduled another couples' yoga night 7:30 p.m. Friday, Feb. 11 – just in time for Valentine's Day weekend. All levels of yoga enthusiasts are invited, McCormick said.

"Mary makes it a relaxing thing, versus something that's strange and new," said Briana Theis, who has been attending McCormick's regular yoga classes for about five years. Theis brought her husband, Sam Theis, to a couples' session last fall.

Like the Bennetts, the Theises found it hard to hold back the laughter that bubbled up in the beginning.

"We got through a little bit of giggles, me more than him," she said. "Then we were able to be serious about it."

The women adapted easily and noticed some advantages to working with a partner, they said, such as the power to stretch more deeply. Theis said she found it both challenging and motivating.

McCormick agreed.

"When you work with a partner, sometimes you can get into a deeper pose and do it differently," she said. "When you put your back to theirs and you feel them breathing, it might encourage you to take a deeper breath than you thought you could take."

Some benefits are less tangible, McCormick said, such as cultivating a new way to communicate.

"You are relaxing and engaging with each other through touch, and hopefully you are strengthening your relationship by doing that," she said.

Increased intimacy is what makes couples' yoga fun, Theis said.

"You can even kind of get into the spiritual aspect of it," she said. "Not in a weird way, but just through the touch of your hand on his knee or his shoulder. There's a connection there."

Chris Lundgren is an Eagle River freelance writer.



This article published in The Alaska Star on Wednesday, February 9, 2011.