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Class combines yoga and art

Posted at 2:39 PM, Apr 20, 2016
and last updated 2016-04-20 18:21:07-04

The lights are low, an instructor guides student laying down a row of brightly colored yoga mats.

"You can gently close the eyes," Alexander Hiffernan calmly says.

At first glance, it looks like the typical yoga flow class.

"Slowly deepen the inhale, little by little."

But Hiffernan has added an extra element. The matt time, becomes drawing time.

"Hands up, find our sketch books."

The downward dogs turn into short drawing breaks. Where students are asked to sketch responses to prompts, to think.

"It usually gets what's all up in here, and all up in there and lost again, it gets it out to the paper," he says. "So they can see it and reflect on it."

He adds the idea is to encourage people who assume they don't fit the stereotypical mold to give zen a try. The class is free, and students don't have to be experienced at stretching or sketching. The focus is more about what you're feeling when you're doing yoga or art.

"They both have destressing qualities to them. They both have self esteem building qualities to them. They both open the mind up."

According to a study released this year by Yoga Journal and Yoga Alliance, about 37 million people in the U.S. practice yoga regularly. Students like Kristen Koba credits classes with this mix to part of the reason why people like her are hitting the mat.

"There's an opportunity to get to your true voice and get to the heart of what you're feeling."