By MICHAEL KELLY
NISKAYUNA — There’s something special going on at The Hot Yoga Zone.
Run in the Niskayuna Square plaza by Mike Parisi and Rocky Parisi, the outfit is currently in the midst of its first “40 Days to Personal Revolution” program, six weeks of activity meant to help individuals get fit — both mentally and physically. The program combines yoga classes with meditation sessions, nutrition help and group sessions to talk out issues. The goal is to leave participants with better habits and attitudes when they exit the program.
“It’s to help the individual to explore, through self-discovery, to find their authentic self,” said Rocky Parisi, who added the plan is to run more sessions of the 40-day program after the first one is complete, in mid-February.
The Hot Yoga Zone is in its second year of operation, but this is the first time the business has run such an extensive program aimed at helping people. The program is based on the teachings of Baron Baptiste, an influential American yoga instructor based in Park City, Utah. Rocky Parisi — the program’s instructor — visited to learn from Baptiste.
Rocky Parisi said she wanted to bring the program to the Capital Region because of the way it can help people not only physically, but mentally through meditation and group learning sessions. Program participants are practicing yoga twice a day, meditating twice a day, and attending at least one weekly group session to talk about their lives.
The program uses a combination of regular (room-temperature) yoga and hot yoga. Rocky Parisi said hot yoga — at temperatures ranging from 85 to 95 degrees helps practitioners achieve an increased heart rate and extra flexibility during sessions. Participants are encouraged to practice regular yoga at home as part of the program, where they also conduct their twice-a-day meditation sessions.
The program has roughly 30 participants at present, and they came to it for a variety of reasons. Some were experienced in yoga and wanted to immerse themselves further in it; others were looking for a way to jump start their 2015; and some were just looking for a change.
Victoria Gorman, a graduate student at The College of Saint Rose, said it was easy to jump into the program right from the start, even for relative yoga novices like herself.
“I was really excited to see everyone get committed to the program. At the beginning [of things], I struggle myself to get motivated to stick with something,” she said.
Quickly, though, she said she became acclimated to the program. She had worried that between working and going to school she would not be able to keep up with the program, but that has not been an issue.
“I’ve been able to add it into my schedule pretty easily,” she said. “The rewards are great. I feel a lot better and less stressed; normally, I have a lot of anxiety and this has helped me with that.”
Susan Stewart, who comes to the Niskayuna yoga studio from Amsterdam, said she was one of the people coming to the program looking for a way to start off 2015 with a bang. She said she felt like she had gotten it, even after just a little time in the program.
“I could feel the difference after a week,” she said.
While many of the participants are not new to yoga, practicing meditation is new for most.
“Experiencing that is all new for me and it has been really cool, realizing how much there is to learn,” said Melissa Patrie, a Colonie native.
“It’s still fairly fresh [to meditate], but I love doing the meditation in the morning right after I wake up,” said Sean Whitty, who is from Amsterdam. “It’s a great way to wake up.”
If the program is able to help participants wake up to better versions of themselves, Rocky Parisi said that is all the better.
The current session of the program ends Feb. 14, but more are planned.