Yoga: the Fountain of Youth

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Brittain Roberts believes she has discovered the secret to staying young forever. On Saturday, she's going to share it with Steamboat Springs.

She chose Nov. 8 for its significance on the Mayan calendar, she said. It's the official end of the Mayan calendar and the day of a full lunar eclipse. Roberts wants to turn it into a sort of spiritual New Year, a day of resolutions and lifestyle changes, for those who attend her first, free yoga class.

"It's potentially a time for a personal shift, a dietary shift, a consciousness shift," Roberts said.

Most yoga classes offered today are based more on the physical aspect of the discipline -- meant for building strength, flexibility and the relief of stress. Yoga classes at the Steamboat Springs Health and Recreation Center, for example, tend to stay away from the spiritual side of the practice as a way of staying inclusive.

But Roberts wants to offer a class for people who are ready to explore that side of things, by offering an energizing yoga based on a combination of Kundalini, Hatha and the Tibetan Rites.

"People will have an opportunity here to be involved in more than the physical practice," Roberts said.

Roberts moved to Steamboat on Aug.1 from the Boulder area and secured herself a spot at Robin Getter's Center for Movement Arts.

Many of her classes will be open to beginners, but the kind of yoga she teaches is better suited to those with experience.

"It think there are a lot of intermediate yogis in Steamboat who are looking for something to do," Getter said.

The Five Rites are five postures that students repeat again and again, moving from five repetitions in the beginning with a goal of 21 repetitions.

After the physical exercises are done, Roberts leads discussions about diet, household arrangement and lifestyle. (She moonlights as a Holistic Lifestyle Consultant.)

"The Five Rites are about caring for the body by looking at the whole picture," Roberts said. Roberts advocates eating an alkaline-balanced diet by reducing acid-forming foods such as alcohol, sugars, grains and meats.

"I'm not talking about vegetarianism here. I'm just talking about eliminating acid-forming foods as one step," she said.

The Five Rites originally were called the Fountain of Youth, Roberts said, by a British army officer who discovered the practice in Tibet when he met a group of monks who did not seem to age.

"It's just a matter of simple eating, knowing when to eat and not drinking excessively while you eat," Roberts said. "For example, our body is in the process of cleansing between six and 10 in the morning. But most people spend that time filling their bodies with toxins ... like coffee."

Roberts remembers her childhood in Georgia. (She is now 33.) "We woke up in the morning and ate cereal with sugar on top. We ate TV dinners and a lot of cheese," she said. "Everything was out of a can. Everything was frozen. We were living in the 70s where fast food was good food."

Roberts said she started watching her diet in her early 20s when she was modeling overseas. Many of her friends had eating disorders, she said.

Roberts discovered her particular practice of yoga (and subsequently incorporated it into her already healthy lifestyle) after injuries from horseback riding, mountain biking and a car accident. A broken pelvis, broken neck and dislocated shoulder had healed, but her body was starting to show signs of arthritis.

She started taking yoga seriously six years ago from a teacher in Driggs, Idaho.

"Yoga helped me strengthen my body to compensate for the injuries," she said.

She discovered the Five Rites when she followed her teacher to Hawaii for a 12-day cleanse. They did the Five Rites yoga every day for two hours in the morning and lived on a Frankincense and salt water diet.

"Through the Five Rites, I could feel parts of my body opening that had been closed for a long time -- like my heart," she said. "I left Hawaii feeling younger and refreshed.

"It's a very simple and easy practice that anyone can do every day."

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