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The Staff and the Body – Eugene Weekly Article

The Staff and the Body – Eugene Weekly Article 400 267 Nate Guadagni

The Staff and the Body

Bo Yoga brings martial arts to traditional practice

LEAD STORY | DECEMBER 31, 2015 | BY DAEMION LEE


Instructor Nate Guadagni leads a Bo Yoga class. Photo: Todd Cooper

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Like yoga but with a stick, Bo Yoga combines elements of yoga with a bo, a wooden staff used in the Japanese martial art of bojutsu. Those familiar with yoga may recognize hints of familiar poses like table or warrior, but it is a unique discipline, incorporating tai chi and dance.

Nate Guadagni, founder and instructor of Bo Yoga, says he came up with the idea while trying out different kinds of bo staffs.

“I realized it allowed me and my students to do a lot more,” Guadagni says about the plastic-and-foam bo he uses in class. “The bo staff allows you to use leverage.” And that means it is possible to stretch more deeply with less effort and strain. The practice is particularly helpful for people recovering from injuries, he says, as well as improving balance and self-discipline.

On a recently rainy morning, Guadagni led a small class of students at the Core Star Center near downtown Eugene.

Soft music fills the room as everyone stretches. At first, the bo staff feels awkward, but at the front of the room, Guadagni demonstrates. He shows the class how to place the staff across the shoulders, arms looped over the top. Next, he puts one end of the staff on the ground and leans against it, encouraging everyone to follow suit.

“Experiment,” Guadagni says. “See what works for you.”

After stretches, he moves to the upper body. With deft movements, he swings the bo in a figure eight around his body. The students imitate the movement, with an occasional bo staff falling to the floor. This is when the soft padding that encases the bo becomes important.

“Don’t be afraid to hit yourself,” Guadagni says with a grin. “It takes practice.”

Now to the lower body. He explains that most people need to strengthen their hips and legs, so this part of the routine is more rigorous. Extending arms and legs in a series of kicks, Guadagni urges everyone to hold the pose to the count of ten, balancing against the bo.

The class wraps up with the students lying on the floor, feeling energized and relaxed at the same time.

“It’s a nice blend of movement,” student Le Shufflebarger says about the class. “It’s something really unique.”

“To me it’s fun because the whole body is working,” says Hazel Jones, another student. “I feel like it centers me.”

Bo Yoga is more than exercise for the body; it has a mental and emotional component as well, helping to relieve stress and anxiety. Guadagni says he is working on an e-book and a series of DVDs to complement the practice of Bo Yoga and help people learn at home.

“It doesn’t really feel like it’s my idea,” he says. “It felt like inspiration.”

Classes are currently offered in Oregon and Illinois.

Stick to it – Eugene Magazine Article

Stick to it – Eugene Magazine Article 1256 1631 Nate Guadagni

STICK TO IT

BO STAFFS IN YOGA ASSIST WITH BALANCE AND MOTION

By Mecca Ray-Rouse | Published October 2016

Photo Credit : Stephanie Kuecker / Vivien Chao

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“Let the bo staff do the work,” Nate Guadagni, founder of Bo Yoga in Eugene, says to his students Thursday morning.

Framed in white Christmas lights, a mirrored wall reflects Guadagni’s students—each with a flexible and padded bo staff.

Guadagni has been teaching yoga since he was 19. In 2013, he began experimenting with bo staffs that he purchased for martial arts practice. He soon realized that this type of staff could be used in yoga. Wrapped in new material, the ancient weapon became a tool for restoring and strengthening the body.

“The modern material adds the flexibility and the padding, which makes it way more useful than a stick,” Guadagni says.

In 2015, he left the company he was working for in order to develop Bo Yoga. He began classes in October 2015.

“People just started responding,” Guadagni says. “It was an immediate, positive response.”

Guadagni’s three pillars for Bo Yoga are energy, balance, and mindfulness. At the beginning of the class his students focus on loosening up the upper body, where people tend to hold most of their stress. Working from head to toe, Guadagni leads his classes through a series of stretches, core work, and balance poses, ending with meditation. During a pose, students use the bo staff for balance or support, or as a way to deepen the stretch by allowing the muscle to relax.

With the bo staff, yoga is more accessible to people who need extra support for safety.

“I want Bo Yoga to feel inviting,” Guadagni says. Yoga can be too demanding, challenging, or intimidating for some people. Guadagni’s class is designed to be fun, uncompetitive, and very beneficial.

“You’re going to get a mixture of the challenge that the body needs to build strength, balance, and flexibility, with the support that’s needed to make sure you’re doing it safely, effectively, and easily,” Guadagni says.

Students attend Guadagni’s class because of their interest in physical and emotional well-being. Though Bo Yoga primarily offers a physical benefit, it also offers an emotional benefit through regulated breathing.

“This has been proven to reduce anxiety, depression, digestion problems, sleeping patterns, etc.” Guadagni says. “The meditation we do at the end can help with stress, mental issues, [and] negative thoughts.”

Many of Guadagni’s students have experienced these benefits since beginning Bo Yoga. A few of his students who came to his first class in October have become regulars.

“I get things here I don’t get at other places,” Hazel Jones says. She had never taken a yoga class before starting Bo Yoga in October. She likes that Bo Yoga focuses on breathing, balance, and being aware of outside factors.

With regard to the bo staff, student Le Shufflebarger says: “It makes you feel really safe. I’m glad [Nate] started this.”

Guadagni also offers an instructor course for those wanting to obtain a license to teach Bo Yoga. He hopes the Bo Yoga staff will become a staple in every yoga class. In the meantime, Guadagni will keep developing his practice and expanding the bo’s use.

“I’m excited to see where it ends up,” says Guadagni.

Guadagni currently teaches Bo Yoga at Eugene Yoga.

3575 Donald St.

458/205-8378

245 E Broadway

541/520-8771

eugeneyoga.us

boyoga.com

info@boyoga.com

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