Yoga Class 

Soothing music, incense and candlelight create a serene setting for yoga students as the calm, reassuring voice of instructor Jim Wills coaches, encourages and guides the group’s movements and thoughts to a restful place of peace. At the end of the session, each person is visibly relaxed yet rejuvenated.

The class meets twice a week at Cityoga in the Indiana Avenue Cultural District downtown near the IUPUI campus. Free of charge, the class is open to anyone infected or affected by HIV/AIDS. According to Cityoga owner Nikki Myers, “Most of us know someone who’s infected, but everyone is affected, so this class is open to all.” Cityoga’s open invitation elicits a cross-section of attendees, including several IUPUI students who need credit for classes. Cityoga’s proximity to campus and the weekday hours are conducive to student schedules, Wills believes. 

The class has been ongoing since Cityoga opened in 2002, originally with a little help in the form of a grant from the Kripalu Center for Yoga and Health in Massachusetts. “It’s the core of who we are,” Myers believes. “We have an affinity with this community.” The class is now taught by Wills, who attended teacher’s training classes at Cityoga. “Every instructor had to select a specialty,” he explains. “I chose wellness for people.”

Because the class is open to HIV-positive students, Wills incorporates some alterations to traditional yoga instruction. The room is kept cooler (around 70 degrees) to reduce sweating, which is detrimental to some medications. Specific exercises are selected to benefit people living with HIV/AIDS. “We focus on opening up the chest for better breathing control, so we do a lot of inversions — down dog, head stands, shoulder stands,” he explains. The thymus, which regulates T-cells, is activated after inversion.

Controlled breathing also oxygenates the organs. For further benefit, Wills leads the class in several floor twists to “squeeze and flush the internal organs.”He reports that one student taking chemotherapy as part of his cancer treatment indicates the exercises assist his medications in rejuvenating his body.

Another focus is stress reduction. Wills includes shoulder and back exercise for a calming effect. Apparently successful, Wills receives a lot of feedback from students experiencing a calming effect and a positive outlook on life after class.

Yoga has changed Wills’ life too. He says he has gained patience and is better able to see the good in people. “I look for the positive.” He gets plenty of practice. In addition to his classes at Cityoga, Wills teaches at the Peace Learning Center at Eagle Creek Park and conducts wellness classes for Delta Faucet. He has served as the treasurer for the Indiana Yoga Association for two years.

He advises incorporating yoga into any fitness routine. “Yoga has been around 5,000 years. It complements other exercises because it teaches you to breathe, stretch, warm up, cool down and relax.” Yoga offers a relaxing way to exercise mind and body, and is the perfect way to start the day, Wills believes.

Yoga

All People Yoga Center
1724 E. 86th St.
317-818-1800

Cityoga Downtown
936 Indiana Ave.
317-423-1730

Cityoga Midtown
3766 N. Meridian St.
317-925-7440

Enlightened Tree
263 Madison Ave., Greenwood
317-640-2585

Himalayan Yoga Meditation Center of Indiana
6358 Guilford Ave.
317-255-5845

Indianapolis Yoga Center
6158 King Ave.
317-603-YOGA

Inner Peace Yoga Center
5038 E. 56th St.
317-257-9642

Invoke Studio
970 Fort Wayne Ave. Ste. C
317-631-9642

Irvington Yoga Collective
6128 E. Lowell Ave.
317-353-1008

Kripalu Yoga Foundation Inc.
1802 E. 46th St.
317-255-1914

Lighted Works
1066 W. 37th St.
317-925-6122

Lotus Center for Yoga & Wellness
3940 W. 96th St.
317-824-9642

Mindful Movement Studio
1315 C W. 86th St.
317-257-6463

Open Heart, Quiet Mind
429 E. Vermont St. Ste. 2
317-840-8393

Renew Yoga & Fitness Studio
1048 Virginia Ave.
317-822-5997

River Light Yoga
5058 Riverview Drive
317-253-0081

The Sacred Space
1060 N. Capitol Ave.
317-881-9642

Samdhana of Indianapolis
3308 Loftus Court
317-753-1630

Source Yoga Center
8609 E. 116th St., Fishers
317-915-9642

Yoga Alive
1741 Minturn Lane
317-253-7302

Yogaworx
4915 Winston Drive
 

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Lori Lovely

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Lori Lovely is a contributing freelance writer. Her passions include animal rights, Native American affairs and the Indianapolis 500.

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