Carmel Roques is the kind of high-energy-busy-mind professional who has always enjoyed a physical outlet. As a child she danced. As a young adult she worked out at a gym. And as grad students in Chicago, she and her husband liked to jog around Lake Michigan, even on windy winter days.
“It was us and the other crazies,” she laughed.
Ten years ago, Roques’ interest in brain function and her work with families of dementia patients brought her to a different physical pursuit — svaroopa yoga.
“It doesn’t take a lot of special equipment. You don’t have to go to the gym every day. You can do it in thirty to forty minutes a day and reap big benefits for your body,” said Roques, who is the CEO of Keswick, an inpatient and outpatient rehabilitation center in Baltimore’s Roland Park neighborhood.
The focus of svaroopa yoga is to release spinal tension, which helps to release stress in the body’s core. The results are more clarity and focus, endurance building and a calming effect. That last one is particularly important to Roques who said she has just too much energy to be a “super meditator,” but understands that she benefits anytime she can shut off “the story that is constantly in our brains” and stills herself.
“I can sit down and work for forty minutes on things that require thoughtfulness as a leader,” she said. “That’s when I do some of my best work.”
Roques tries to practice yoga every day and attends classes a few times a week with Myrna Carpenter at Soul Space Yoga in Columbia and Baltimore, and Anita Strittmatter at Four Gates Wellness Center, also in Columbia. A few years ago, Roques herself became certified to teach and taught for one year.
One of today’s trendy topics for women leaders is power posing – channeling your inner Wonder Woman in an outward stance that projects confidence and reduces stress. Svaroopa yoga is, in a way, its own form of power posing because it helps practitioners be aware of how they are holding their bodies and to regulate their breathing, Roques said.
During stressful days at work, she recommends that women take five minutes to stop what they are doing, sit up straight in their chair and put their feet on the floor. Then they should notice how they are holding their bodies and how they are breathing.
“We’re sort of clenched up all the time,” she said. “It’s just natural. It’s just the way our bodies are.”
To counter that, intentionally breathe, she recommended. Be aware of the tension and anxiety and release it. “Turn inward and focus on yourself instead of everything around you,” she said.
Roques admitted that it can be hard to explain the benefits of yoga to those who don’t practice it. But she summed it up this way, “It’s a great gift you can give yourself.”
Read more about svaroopa yoga at Soul Space Yoga’s website, soulspaceyoga.publishpath.com.
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