By Jean Stratton
published in Town Topics – March 17, 2004
Be in the moment. Let the stresses of the day fade from your consciousness. Concentrate on breathing, on the physical postures and poses of the class; achieve a sense of calm and peace and well-being.
FINE FORM: “Teacher training is very important. We are set apart by the quality of our teachers ? they are passionate about what they do,” says Deborah Metzger, founder/director of the Princeton Center for Yoga and Health. Shown is a class in Yogilates (combination of yoga and Pilates), in which students are warming up under the guidance of instructor Melissa Griffith (at the right in background.
These are the goals of many students who are attending yoga classes in increasingly large numbers. This ancient Eastern discipline is far more of a presence in the mainstream of Western life and culture than was once the case. Yoga studios and centers, featuring a variety of yoga styles, are becoming much more prevalent and attracting many adherents.
“With yoga, you can find who you are,” explains Deborah Metzger, founder/director of the Princeton Center for Yoga and Health (PCYH). “All the answers are inside – it’s that moment of silence within yourself.
“Each class deepens our connection to our true selves,” she adds. “Here at PCYH, yoga is not simply a form of exercise, it is a life practice.”
Ms. Metzger established the center in 1996, and it moved to its current location in the Montgomery Professional Center, just off Route 518 in Skillman, over a year ago.
Although she had dabbled in yoga in the 1970s, she did not become serious about it until a health problem caused her to investigate its healing possibilities.
“In the 1980s, I was having respiratory problems, which developed into asthma,” explains Ms. Metzger. “I thought yoga, with its emphasis on breathing, might be able to help. It has breathing practices helpful for asthma. It strengthens the lungs, expands lung capacity, opens the chest, and is soothing. It certainly helped me.”
This positive experience led Ms. Metzger to study yoga with the hope of becoming a teacher, and she was certified in 1991 at the Kripalu Center for Yoga and Health.
When she decided to open her own yoga center, she chose to offer a variety of yoga styles, most of which are traditions of Hatha yoga, which emphasize physical postures, alignment, breathing, and meditation. These postures help to strengthen, stretch, and tone muscles, massage internal organs, and promote relaxation.
Classes are available in many yoga styles, including the more meditative Kripalu and Soma, the vigorous Astanga, power, and hot yoga, and specialties, such as kids’ yoga, mom and baby, Yogilates, and chair yoga.
Also offered are Dharmic yoga, Vinyasa yoga, Iyengar-style Hatha, and Kundalini yoga, among others.
People come for different reasons – exercise, relaxation, muscle tone and strengthening ? reports Ms. Metzger. “Some come to relieve stress, to relax, or because someone told them yoga was good for you. Also, it’s very popular now, celebrity driven, and people see that. I don’t care how they find out. It’s a way for them to get into it. They may come for a specific reason, but if they really explore it, they will find so much more, and gain a different perspective.”
Also, she notes, people with specific physical conditions, such as arthritis or injuries, can be accommodated. Poses can be modified and adjusted so everyone can participate. There is never a sense of competition or pushing one’s body too far, she adds. The focus is on each individual’s sense of what is helpful and appropriate for that person.
“Each time you do a yoga pose, it’s different because the body can be different,” points out Ms. Metzger. “We offer a safe, warm, inviting environment, a place where like-minded people can meet and explore different paths to health, healing, and personal growth.
“Basically, I’m teaching what I need to heal,” says Ms. Metzger, who teaches a beginning mixed level Kripalu yoga class. “Lessons from yoga seep into everyday life, and it can help you psychologically.”
Classes are typically an hour and a half, with 10 to 15 students (more or less depending on the class). 20 to 25 certified teachers are associated with the center, and Ms. Metzger is proud of their proficiency.
Students wear casual clothing which does not restrict movement, she adds, and mats and other supplies for the classes are provided.
In addition to the yoga classes, a variety of activities, such as belly dance, Relaxercise, Pilates, meditation, and holistic services, including massage, is available. Social gatherings include workshops with visiting teachers, special sing-along sessions, and yoga for singles, among others.
With so many classes, a range of payment plans is available, including special packages. One-time sessions are $15, and students can download a free relaxation experience by visiting the PCYH website: www.princetonyoga.com
PCYH has recently opened a Conscious Living store, offering a variety of products, and focusing on the Feng Shui philosophy of harmonious and balanced living and work space. Classes in Feng Shui are also available.
“Yoga is thousands of years old. I’m just a yoga baby!” says Ms. Metzger. “I love watching people ‘get it’ – watching beginners and seeing the look in their eye when they begin to understand. When people are newcomers and open to new experiences, I welcome them, and tell them yoga is an eastern way of looking at things.
“I think our center provides something special because of our experience, our teachers, the variety of our classes, the different payment options, and the environment we offer. We have lots of students, and I always look forward to more. I never know who will come through the door!”
Ms. Metzger also offers corporate programs at offices, the Rotary Club, and other organizations, as well as private parties.
Classes at the center are available seven days a week, from morning to evening. (609) 924-7294.