Yoga Is U-M Men’s Rowing Team Secret Weapon In National Championship Win

 Coach credits yoga conditioning at Ann Arbor School of Yoga with fine-tuning team performance

ANN ARBOR, Mich., June 10, 2009 – The University of Michigan Men’s Rowing Team dominated the recent American Collegiate Rowing Association (ACRA) National Championships in Oak Ridge, TN. The club won all four men’s heavyweight eights events and took a bronze medal in the varsity lightweight 8+ on its way to winning the Men’s team championship.

Associate Head Coach Charley Sullivan cites an exceptionally helpful new training tool: yoga studies with Ann Arbor School of Yoga Director Laurie Blakeney. Team members requested the new conditioning, Sullivan said.

 “Working with these dedicated young athletes was a pleasure.  They are bright and committed, and appreciated the depth yoga training added to their mind/body awareness,” Blakeney said.

The team practiced Iyengar yoga asanas or poses with Blakeney for eight weeks in the early morning to prepare for the national competition.  The workouts focused on strength, flexibility and balance.  Iyengar Yoga is based on the teachings of Shri B.K.S. Iyengar, the revered living yoga master.  Before they began yoga classes at AASY, Coach Sullivan had already began teaching the team yoga based on his own training as one of Blakeney’s students.

 “On a very basic level, it helped rowers increase flexibility and control, particularly at the extremes of range of motion where the boat is most tippy and most unstable. It allowed them to understand better the connection of their bodies,” Sullivan said.

Laurie’s such a good teacher, helping people realize that certain things are connected internally (lifted support) and externally (bracing support.) – body awareness around balance and core strength.”

 AASY is one of the Great Lakes region’s longest-running yoga venues. Its spacious, light-filled studio and study center in downtown Ann Arbor offers a full schedule of yoga classes and cultural events.

 Free 90-minute trial classes are offered regularly.  For trial class dates and the complete class schedule, please visit

 Members of the media are cordially invited to attend a sample class or view the studio at their convenience.  Please contact Laurie Blakeney, 734-663-7612, or email to arrange a visit.

 About Ann Arbor School of Yoga

AASY welcomes serious as well as recreational students for the practice and study of Yoga.  AASY is one of the Great Lakes region’s longest-running yoga venues.  Director Laurie Blakeney, a personal student of BKS Iyengar, holds one of the few Advanced Teaching Certificates conferred directly by the renowned yoga master.

 She brings a uniquely personal and direct style of teaching to her students. She focuses equally on strength, flexibility, stamina and balance with an emphasis on correct alignment. Iyengar Yoga is based on the teachings of Shri B.K.S. Iyengar, the revered living yoga master.  His writings (including Light on Yoga, Light on Pranayama and Light on Life) have popularized yoga throughout the world.

Living Life as Art – (with the help of Yoga)

I began my study of Iyengar Yoga at age 19 in 1971. I was immediately hooked. Six years later I began teaching classes, and since then I have been even more enthusiastic with the challenge of teaching the subject. In 1983 I began annual study trips to our parent institute, RIMYI in Pune India. Being a student at our Institute has been a huge blessing in my life!

What I love about the study, practice and teaching of yoga the way the Iyengar’s have guided us is that it helps us to live an artistic life. Guruji has written often about the art, science and philosophy of Yoga. These three intersecting aspects, or perspectives, intrigue me and I try to share that curiosity with my students.

I love to study and share the philosophy of the Patanjali Yoga Sutra, the Bhagavad Gita, and the Upanisads among other texts. These works add color and texture to the asana and pranayama we practice. I also am amazed by, and try to share the science of the practice as it has been developed by our Guru BKS Iyengar. His penetrating understanding of human minds and bodies, and his innovative approach with props and sequences has us all appreciating the “laboratory” approach as we investigate the subject.

To live artistically we must all be acute listeners and appreciative watchers. We need to learn to be expressive – expressive and clear with our words, our movements, our actions, and our thoughts. And as artistic as the study and practice of yoga is, it is only on rare occasions a “performance art”. So there is no pressure to perform, and the ego need not worry itself over that possible strain. Yoga is for our own evolution and satisfaction.

As a teacher now with over 30 year’s experience, I am honored to have been given an Advanced Jr. 1 Certificate by BKS Iyengar. I am excited to share this focus of artistry with every one who attends my classes in the coming year.



Searching for the Seer

September in Ann Arbor is the New Year, when most of us rearrange our schedules with great plans and goals. My hope for all of us at AASY is to have a very satisfying year of practice and study. The subject of yoga is so huge, and encompasses so much, that at times it is a daunting endeavor. The biggest benefit is that the study of yoga organizes our self cultivation. It disciplines us towards better health, calmer nerves, sharper intellect, and content spirits. Our studies provide a pragmatic system for this self cultivation. As we exercise our limbs, joints, muscles and lungs we develop our sense of balance with respect for agility, strength and endurance. And even though the qualities of balance, agility, strength and endurance seem on the surface to be physical skills, they extend to our management of personal maturation. We grow emotionally, intellectually, and spiritually. Our families and friends appreciate and benefit from our efforts as well – we become the stable, strong, reliable, creative and fun people in their lives.

The first 4 sutra’s in the Patanjali Yoga Sutra explains our mission and what we can expect to gain, without really giving away all the mysteries we practice to reveal. The definition of “Yoga is the cessation of the movements in the consciousness”, (PYS I.2). We are promised that if we succeed in this quieting of our chattering monkey of a consciousness “then, the seer dwells in his own true splendor”, (PYS 1.3). And we are warned that when we have not quieted that pesky mind we are left with, “other times, (when) the seer identifies with the fluctuating consciousness,” (PYS1.4).

We still have the big job of finding out for ourselves who exactly is our own Splendid Seer. The technique is to discipline, stabilize and quiet the mind to start the hunt. The snake pit we might fall into is false identification with the unstable mind. The search is the fun. The insights are hopeful. The challenge is rewarding.

Welcome back, looking forward to our Fall 07 Session together.

Laurie Blakeney
AASY Director