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August 3, 2021

Enthusiasm for yoga on the rise in South Valley

The popularity of yoga seems to be growing in the Gilroy and Morgan Hill area, and Ahnna Goossen, owner of Yoga Bella Studio in Gilroy, has proof.
On a regular basis, Goossen receives countless calls from Gilroy newcomers and people planning to move to the area. “They’re not even done packing and they’re searching for a yoga studio,” Goosen said.
Experts say yoga practice lowers the resting heart rate, increases endurance and can improve the maximum uptake of oxygen during exercise, according to The benefits increase as the commitment to yoga continues, much like a domino effect. When yogis get involved in their own care, they discover their involvement gives them the power to effect change. Recognizing that power in turn gives them hope, which in itself can be healing.
Desiree Stemberga, teacher and owner of The Dailey Method,
in Morgan Hill, said yoga is “the whole package.” She agrees that yoga’s popularity has risen and credits the variety of yoga types for
the increase.
“Yoga is the marriage of the aspects of physical, mental and emotional elements,” Stemberga said.
Western science provides some concrete clues to how yoga works to improve health, heal aches and pains, and keep sickness at bay, according to Studies of people with asthma, high blood pressure, Type II diabetes and obsessive compulsive disorder have shown that yoga helped them lower their dosage of medications and sometimes get off them entirely, a journal article stated.
Morgan Hill Athletic Club General Manager Ryan Grotz, believes yoga is becoming a mainstream form of exercise. He incorporates movements involved in yoga at the end of his sessions with his clients, because the movements are invaluable for flexibility, balance and symmetry with the body.
“Yoga is talked about more often now … its popularity is increasing,” Grotz said. “I think everyone should at least try yoga once. It’s a valuable experience.”
The popularity of yoga has reached as far as the United Nations, when last December it announced the inception of the first International Day of Yoga. On June 21, Morgan Hill and Gilroy residents took part in the international celebration at Morgan Hill Community Park to celebrate the first inaugural Morgan Hill YogaFest.
 “They showed up at 7:30 a.m., even though the gates didn’t open until 7:45,” said Sunanda Gadagottu, a lead organizer and media representative for YogaFest. “We put a 100 percent into it, and now we see the results. It’s amazing. The connection between people is what we really are hoping to build…a sense of connection between people and the community. That’s what is important to us.”
Gadagottu credited the success of the festival to a small group of Art of Living Foundation volunteers. Founded in 1981 by philanthropist and spiritual leader Sri Sri Ravi Shankar, the foundation’s mission is to bring individuals back to a sense of happiness and peace and living a peaceful life. And practicing yoga is part of that mission.
At the center of the volunteer group is Deepak Sridhar, festival director and Art of Living Foundation volunteer. “The idea was out there. It’s just working itself through me and us,” said Sridhar, explaining how the foundation became involved in planning the YogaFest.
Annalise De Salvo, who attended the YogaFest, has personally benefited from the practice of yoga and is now studying to become a yoga instructor.
 “It’s transformed my whole life really—my self-confidence, how I treat other people and how I treat my body,” De Salvo said. “My diet has gotten better, my health has gotten better.”
Some yoga professionals, like Wendy Mosgrove, owner of Bikram Yoga of Morgan Hill and Gilroy, feel social media has played an integral role in yoga’s rising popularity. Others, like Nick Fortino of the Mount Madonna Center, believe word-of-mouth advertising, as yoga enthusiasts talk to others about their experiences, has contributed to the spike in yoga interest.
“The beauty of it is that it’s so experiential that it doesn’t strike anyone as dogmatic, because it’s a personal experience that anyone can have,” Fortino said.
“It meets different needs.” N
Top Ten Benefits of Yoga
All around fitness
Weight loss
Stress relief
Inner peace
Improved immunity
Greater awareness
Better relationships
Living with greater awareness
Better flexibility and posture
—Courtesy of

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