Reaching out to yoga

High school athletes find the benefits at local studio
By: Lauren Gibbs, The Placer Herald
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Whitney High School swimmers went on dry land for practice Friday. Students traded their goggles and swim caps for yoga mats and workout gear for the practice. Every Friday, the swim team will head to ShriKula Yoga in Rocklin for cross training. The studio, located at Sunset and Lonetree boulevards in Rocklin, opened in August of last year and already has ties to the community. During water polo season, owner Trish Pietrzak taught the boy’s team yoga skills that improved their teamwork and agility. Hunter Pietrzak, Trish’s son and a Whitney High water polo player, admitted that his teammates weren’t exactly thrilled with the idea of practicing yoga. But as the season went on, they saw the benefits. “By the end of the season, they were so excited about coming,” Trish Pietrzak said. Hunter Pietrzak said his teammates found that with the practice of yoga comes more strength and flexibility. “It also helped with our leg work,” he said. But it’s not just the physical benefits athletes see in yoga. “It helps them with academic studies and test anxiety,” Trish Pietrzak said. “We’re trying to teach them how to free their minds.” For the approximately 50 swimmers at practice Friday, they had no idea that entering the 100-degree heated yoga room they would not only learn poses, but also about fellow teammates. The first five minutes of class were devoted to mingling with unfamiliar faces and letting go of egos. “Let go of your ego – none of that matters,” Trish Pietrzak told the class. “We’re going to try to get back to simple in this room. Next week, come as plain as possible.” Kari Ustaszewski, one of the girls swim coaches, said that Friday yoga practice is important after Thursday’s swim meets. The coaches incorporate other workouts besides swimming into practices — yoga being one of them, Ustaszewski said. “It’s a nice way to train the body,” Ustaszewski said. The partnership between the studio and student athletes was put in place on purpose. Trish Pietrzak, a former competitive athlete, has been practicing yoga for approximately 20 years. She designed a class that improves athletes’ focus, breath, flexibility, balance and helps them synergize as a team. Helping local athletes is just one way Trish Pietrzak has been giving back to the community through ShriKula Yoga. Open only about half a year, the staff and clients at ShriKula have already put on two large donation drives and another is in the works. Recently the studio hosted Flow into the Light, a free five-hour yoga event that benefited the area’s homeless youth. More than 60 people participated and in addition to bringing their mats and water, donated food, clothing and other items. The result was 100 gallons of food, 510 gallons of clothing and other sleeping items. Next up will be The Buddhalicious Belly, which will feature belly dancing, body painting, trance dance, henna tattoos and more. Attendees are asked to bring a decorative floor or meditation pillow that will be donated to children who are cancer survivors. The event will be held from 6:30-11 p.m. April 30 and will cost $20 per person or $30 per couple. “One goal for this studio is a lot of giving back to the community,” Trish Pietrzak said. “It’s really about giving.” More than 25 classes are offered in ShriKula’s two rooms, including children’s yoga classes and wall yoga. Called the Great Yoga Wall, the class works in a room with adjustable straps connected to the walls. The straps allow students to practice hundreds of poses and can help people achieve deeper yoga stretches. The studio also houses a community tea bar and a board of trade where locals can post items they hope to exchange. For more information on ShriKula Yoga, go to ShriKula Yoga Where: 1150 Sunset Blvd. #154, Rocklin Classes: Power yoga, wall yoga, candlelight flow, kids yoga, and more Information: 316-7743;