Many people think that doing yoga is kind of a stretch. I, a superlative male, once looked down my nose at it, reasoning that only bench presses could properly channel my laddish energy. My girlfriend, who has come into possession of a permanently pulled fiber in her poor haunch, also thought that yoga was unsuitable for her. That we both recently tried it and liked it is a testament to just why the exercise has endured for thousands of years. Dani Leverington of Downtown Yoga could have told us as much.
Dani started doing yoga in preparation for her training with the North Dakota Army National Guard. As a platoon leader and combat engineer who specialized in clearing obstacles via explosives, Dani found yoga an especially good way of not only toning up, but also unwinding after a demanding day of blowing things to bits. She received her 200 hour yoga teacher’s certification 11 months into her service, and opened her studio in downtown Fargo shortly thereafter.
“Most people know of the physical benefits of yoga,” said Dani, “but increased flexibility and greater strength aren’t all that yoga offers. What you’ll hear about less often are yoga’s mental benefits. If you’re struggling with stress, anxiety, or depression, learning how to switch your body from ‘fight and flight’ to ‘rest and restore’ will really help you to relax. Yoga gives us the time and techniques we need to slow down.
“Yoga can be very strenuous, if you want it to be. We see a lot of hot yoga in Western culture, where you exercise in a sweltering and generally very trying environment. But yoga has many different styles that are suitable for a wide range of people. We do have intense workout-style programs, but we also offer less exertive ones like our Yin yoga class which focuses on maintaining relaxing poses for two to five minutes, and our gentle yoga class that teaches breathing techniques and strengthens muscles through accessible postures.
“I hear a lot of people say ‘I’m not flexible enough to do yoga,’ but people who aren’t flexible are the ones who need yoga the most! Everything in your body is connected — if you’re inflexible in one part of it, that could ultimately lead to problems in other areas. Everyone can do yoga, but one person’s yoga may not look like another’s. Downtown Yoga helps a lot of people representing every age and level of fitness. That’s why we offer so many types of classes. We offer a welcoming space where anyone can be comfortable doing yoga to the best of their ability.”
Indeed, the scope of what Downtown Yoga offers is impressive. In addition to their regular sessions they have weekly special classes, several of which combine yoga with other local businesses’ specialties. In the past they have partnered with Barks & Recreation to do dog yoga, Wild Terra Cider to combine yoga with healthful kombucha, and massage therapists for what must have been some of the most relaxing experiences imaginable. You could give someone a temple massage under any circumstances and their stress would melt away like ice cream on an electric burner. Downtown Yoga also regularly hosts the Veterans Yoga Project to help local vets who are coping with physical or mental issues.
Still uncertain whether yoga might be the fix for you? Giving it the college try is as easy as can be thanks to Downtown Yoga’s new client special. With it, you pay only $30 to attend as many classes as you like over the course of three weeks. With 23 regular classes weekly, you’ll have ample opportunity to discover the program best suited to you. To learn more about Dani and everything her Downtown Yoga has to offer, you need only visit 216 Broadway N #204 in Fargo or downtownyogafargo.com.
By David Scheller