MARIETTA - Establishing a balance between body and mind can lead to a wide array of health benefits and perhaps that is why yoga continues to be a popular practice.
"There is more and more research about the benefits of yoga for everyone from soldiers with post-traumatic stress to cardiac patients," said Martha Stump of Rauch Drive in Marietta, who is an instructor and owner of MOV Yoga.
The tradition dates back to ancient India and what we know as yoga in the West- stretching and breathing - is actually just one of many tenets of a philosophy practiced in Hinduism, Buddhism, Jainism and Sikhism.
Stump is quick to note, however, that the yoga she teaches is not a religion.
"I've made a choice that I don't teach in Sanskrit. I think it's exclusionary and I think yoga should be accessible to everyone," Stump said.
One of Stump's students is Velvet Tranchina, 31, of Marietta. Tranchina said she doesn't consider herself "super fit" or "super active" but she enjoys yoga because there are benefits at every skill level.
"I had always been curious (about trying yoga)," Tranchina said.
"I like it because it gives me increased flexibility, helps with general strength and balance and is relaxing."
Tranchina attends classes with Stump at Marietta Dance Academy in the Frontier Shopping Center and sometimes at Full Circle Yoga in Vienna.
"In the past it was something I would do if I had time but now I am trying to make time. It is something I want to commit to," Tranchina said.
A market study by "Yoga Journal" and conducted by Harris Interactive Service Bureau in February showed that 16.5 million adults in the U.S. practice yoga. The poll surveyed 4,700 respondents - a statistically representative sample of the total U.S. population - and also showed that the number was up 43 percent from a similar poll in 2002. The fastest growing segment was the 18 to 24 age group.
Stump has taught students from high school to those in their late 70s and every skill level, though she has a saying:
"There is a yoga for everybody but every yoga is not for everybody."
Carolina Alvarez, a yoga and acting instructor from New York City currently living and teaching in Marietta, believes that her two loves go hand in hand.
"A lot of actors do yoga," she said. "I love teaching acting and yoga classes because I feel everyone is artistic and if you turn yourself inward, you allow yourself to be whatever you choose."
Alvarez has been a certified instructor for 14 years and was exposed to yoga when she was very young.
"I was lucky enough to have a mom who put me in yoga classes at age 4," she said.
For Alvarez, who is a theater artist, the meditative qualities of yoga help her to "clear the slate" and allow for creative ideas to be sparked and fostered. Yoga is also something that surprises a lot of people when they try it.
"It may not come naturally to everyone at first, but once they start practicing, it becomes something that they have to do," Alvarez said.
"I don't think it's a (passing) fad. There are a lot of different styles and different applications of yoga that people can do," she said. "I don't think it's going anywhere."