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Rope Yoga

What's Your Workout features rope yoga with Samantha Birk.

Photos by Cathie Rowand | The Journal Gazette
Samantha Birk of Columbia City uses a rope in her yoga class at Studio Seva, 3511 N. Anthony Blvd. Ropes can be used as support.
What's your workout?

Samantha Birk | 50, Columbia City

Birk and other students take a rope yoga class.

Samantha Birk looks like she's ready to take flight.

With her arms outstretched behind her, feet planted into the floor, her body floats above a red yoga mat.

The position is no great acrobatic feat but rather a yoga pose achieved with the help of the rope wall behind her.

"It can be a bit scary diving forward into downward facing dog or hanging upside down against the wall in a reverse pose being supported only by the ropes," Birk says. "Once you realize that when you do the poses correctly you are not going to fall on your head, it is actually really fun!"

The Columbia City woman first discovered the yoga rope wall at Studio Seva, 3511 N. Anthony Blvd., when she began taking private sessions at the studio in January.

"(Owner Joni McCarran) was able to work into the practice a couple of poses that made use of the wall," she says. "I immediately saw some of the benefits and how it might be a great help to me to help me meet my goals for returning to yoga."

The return was a step toward healing from a 2008 injury. While riding her horse in an arena, the horse bucked, pitching her forward and injuring her hand, lower back and left hip.

"After the accident, for several years, I struggled with not only pain, but severe muscle spasms, which pretty much stopped me for doing just about anything. Through physical therapy and working with my doctor I was eventually able to bring the spasms under control but by that time the strength in my muscles was very uneven and some muscle groups were not performing their correct duties," Birk says. " … Yoga has helped me, and continues to help me, strengthen, gain flexibility and manage the pain, while engaging me mentally in a way that probably no other form of exercise could."

The workout: Yoga rope wall

Description: Sessions use ropes to bring awareness of alignment to help open areas of the body that might be difficult otherwise. The ropes can also be used as support and to stretch and strengthen specific areas of the body.

"What I have found is that after I do a pose on the wall, as long as I am mindful as to what is going on with my position and muscles, I am usually able to do them more successfully on the floor."

Workout schedule: Birk practices yoga four to six times a week, including one yoga rope wall session.

Cost: Varies based on packages or monthly membership. A drop-in yoga class at Studio Seva is $15.

Gear: Props, such as a strap and block, can be helpful but aren't required.

Motivation: "Like everyone, there are days when I might be feeling a bit lazy and think about skipping a practice here and there. In those instances I think about how good I feel after the practice," she says. "Usually what happens then is once I start the practice and get into it I realize how much better I am starting to feel."

One love: "Yoga is my primary form of exercise," she says. "I also walk and occasionally ride my bike, but I enjoy yoga and at this stage feel it is the most beneficial to me."