Stress less: Yoga can help, instructor says

Published 8:30 pm Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Sarah Kennedy always knew she was going to like yoga classes.

But between being a wife and a mother of four boys and everything else that can get in the way, Kennedy didn’t get the chance to try out her hunch.

That was, until three years ago.

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After she and her family moved from Maine to Smithfield, Kennedy decided she would take her first yoga class at the Smithfield YMCA.

“I just haven’t stopped from then on,” she said.

Kennedy now runs Unity Yoga, which has a base of operations in Smithfield but offers classes at satellite locations at Oakland Christian Church in Chuckatuck and at Dynamic Movements in North Suffolk.

“I love that it offers something to everyone,” Kennedy said. “I love that it affects your inside as much as your outside. You feel healthier, and you’re doing good things for your body, but you don’t feel like you’re stuck in an exercise room.”

After taking classes at the YMCA for just three months, Kennedy’s yoga instructor encouraged her to go to a YogaFit training session to become a yoga instructor herself.

“I thought, ‘Maybe I can do this,’” Kennedy said. “It gave me a great avenue to deal with the great stresses of life.”

For the next year and a half, Kennedy spent more than 200 hours training to become an instructor. In October of last year, she was fully certified and ready to go out on her own.

She started Unity Yoga and has already amassed about 100 clients throughout the Suffolk and Smithfield areas.

Kennedy said she is thankful for the opportunity to introduce people to yoga, and for the benefits it brings.

“I just want people to be exposed to it, because it makes a big difference,” she said.

For example, Kennedy recalled a time she was sitting behind a slow driver in rush hour traffic, trying to get to the other side of town. She had only been practicing yoga for a few months at the time.

“I hate traffic,” Kennedy said. “I usually get very stressed and aggravated. But that day I realized, my hands weren’t clinched on the wheel, my jaws weren’t clinched, and my face was relaxed. That was a big ‘A-ha’ moment. Throughout my whole life, I’m so much more patient in so many more ways.”

According to a report last year on ABC News, routine yoga sessions have been shown to help insomnia and relieve chronic pain conditions. The report also said medical studies have shown that the poses, meditation and breathing techniques help reduce stress responses.

“Just try the classes,” Kennedy said. “Try them. It’s a great tool for whatever you might need.”

For more information, including class times and locations, call Kennedy at 390-0937 or email