When yoga instructor Victoria Seff asked her student, Alicia Doerbecker, 26, if she was feeling adventurous last Thursday evening, it was clear she already knew the answer.
Thin, toned and full of energy, Doerbecker feigned anxiety before eagerly attempting an inversion. Referred to in Sanskrit as "Sirsasana," an inversion is a pose in which the crown of the head rests on the floor as the body is held upright and supported by the forearms.
"I'm religious about this," said Doerbecker of the practice she uses not only as exercise but as a way to relieve stress and restore balance to her life. "Yoga is a lifestyle change. It means balancing yourself and finding your place in life instead of being pulled by the stresses of life. It's finding harmony in yourself and what you do."
On this humid July evening, Doerbecker was the only student who braved the un-air conditioned room at Grace Lutheran Church on Bellmore Avenue. The church lends its space to Seff every Thursday from 6 to 7 p.m. for her adult Hatha Yoga classes.
"A lot of people are almost scared to start yoga because of the image the media has created - that you have to be super flexible and really thin," said Seff. "They don't know that yoga is really meant for every body type. Whether someone is overweight, old, stiff or injured, yoga can always be amended for them."
Seff caters to people with injuries or aches and pains using props such as blocks that can alter the students' distance from the ground. She also adjusts poses for beginners or anyone feeling strain on their body.
"I work with my students on any kind of issue," said Seff. "I encourage them to ask questions so they can understand what is going on in their bodies."
Seff, the face of Floating Lotus Yoga and a member of the Long Island Yoga Association Board of Directors, started taking formal yoga classes in 2003 and completed her training in February 2007. She also teaches adults at Ladies Workout Express in North Bellmore and children at North Bellmore Library and Bellmore Library.
Hatha Yoga focuses mostly on physical poses rather than meditation, but the way the movement and position of each body part is singled out creates a sort of meditation of its own.
"When working on a pose the mind has nothing to think about but the posture of the body," said Seff. "The mind is focused on a single point—it's meditation in motion."
Interested students of all ages may drop into the church any Thursday evening, though children must be accompanied by their parents. Seff offers a $5 discount to seniors and students ages 16 to 23 with identification. Regular admission is $15 per class or $120 for 10 classes. Discounts are also offered for specific groups, so inquire.