It’s 11 a.m., you’ve been at your desk since 8:30 a.m. and the rest of the day stretches out for what seems like another 12 hours. And you haven’t even had lunch!
Stop. Stand at your desk. Turn away from the computer — Sonya Costanza is here to fly you away to Shangri La. In 15 to 20 minutes you’ll feel lighter, brighter, sharper and hungrier for the day that lies ahead. That’s what Office Asana is all about.
The point is, you don’t have to have a yoga mat or get on the floor or hie yourself off to a gym. Costanza brings you Office Asana, “to get you off your office ass’an’ a way” to beat the dreaded doldrums (the word play actually suggested itself, she said, once she put two and two together).
Office Asana is now airing on True Taos Radio KNCE 93.5 FM ( truetaosradio.com ) every Monday Wednesday and Friday at 1 p.m. for a 5-minute yoga break, according to KNCE’s Max Moulton.
“Sonya reached out to me for a comment regarding the Office Asana,” Moulton said in an email. “She has been coming in to my company's office (Gizmo Productions) once a week to do sessions with my team.
“I work at a computer all day and I play drums in a few bands around town, which means too much of my day is spent sitting down. Sitting that much causes noticeable lower back and knee discomfort. Sonya comes into our office once a week, gets us to stand up, pay attention to our bodies, stretch muscles we didn't know we had and gets us reinvigorated for the day. All of this in just 15 minutes. My business partner was apprehensive at first, but within two sessions realized that it was fun, helped make the day more productive and helped reinvigorate us for the rest of the day. I think all sitting offices should have a brief stretching interlude and Sonya is the perfect person for the job. She is a yoga genius and understands the limits on non-yoga types, which makes it fun and challenging.”
As a side note, Moulton said he took a month of private yoga with Costanza and credits her with relieving some major leg pain he was having. “She helped me learn some of the basic maneuvers, which I still practice daily. She knew my limits and patiently taught me the basics in a comfortable setting. I'm not the 'yoga' type. I never would have gone to a class, but she has the right perspective, personality, knowledge and understanding to help anyone learn and use the benefits of yoga.”
Costanza has been teaching yoga in Taos for more than 20 years. Her public and private classes currently revolve around her personally designed Ashtanga Vinyasa and Four Seasons Yoga practices — the latter, which she said, incorporates “deep, fluid breathing and movement combined with precise alignment to balance the activities, climate and predominant dosha of each season, inspired by Ashtanga and Iyengar yoga, and Ayurveda.” (A dosha is one of three bodily humors that make up one's constitution, according to Ayurveda.)
Also key to Constanza's practice is her specialization in back care and scoliosis yoga therapeutics. Back care includes yoga for people with herniated discs, sciatica and other spine-related issues.
“Yoga for scoliosis is to help people manage the pain associated with the scoliosis,” Costanza said, adding that the yoga is directed at preventing current bone curvatures from getting worse.
Costanza started practicing yoga at age 17 with her first teacher, José Santos in Taos, who encouraged her to start teaching in her mid-20s, when she started taking over his classes. From there, she became interested in Ashtanga and went to India twice to study with Ashtanga yoga founder Pattabhi Jois.
In her 30s, she studied and became certified by Elise B. Miller, renowned Senior Certified Iyengar Yoga teacher who specializes in back and sports-related injuries.
“Back-care yoga aims at creating space where there would otherwise be compression and strengthens supporting structures to release overworked areas,” Costanza explained.
Teresa Ebie is a 59-year-old Taoseña who suffers from idiopathic scoliosis and a herniated cervical disk. She has been practicing with Costanza for two years, in group and private lessons.
“Sonya has helped me to not only work within my limitations, but also, where possible, to grow beyond them without fear,” Ebie said, adding that Costanza brings to her teaching “a keen understanding of anatomy and physiology, as well as deep insights into meditation and spirituality. Practicing with Sonya has helped me to become physically stronger, emotionally calmer and more focused.”
Done with the right spirit, it seems, human bodies crave yoga for overall well-being.
Costanza teaches four group classes a week at Shree Yoga, located at 112 Ledoux St., and two groups per week at her Taos Yoga Studio, 218 Morada Lane. She does private sessions by appointment. For more information, see sonyaluz.com or call (575) 758-8007.
A five-minute break to clear the mind, relieve tension and increase productivity:
Stand up from your chair and turn away from you computer screen, with your feet about hip-width apart and parallel. Take a deep inhale as you reach your arms up to shoulder height. As you exhale, turn your palms up and roll your shoulders back. With your next inhale, reach your arms all the way up, overhead. Exhale and bring the arms back down by your sides. Repeat this five times. Each time you inhale, imagine drawing the energy up from the earth through the soles of the feet, into the legs. Feel the muscles of the legs lift and engage, the lower belly drawing in and up, the back expanding and the heart lifting. With each exhale, relax the shoulders, right down to the base of the spine, and feel the feet firm and steady on the earth beneath you.