It started with a rock.
Cal Poly students with yoga mats tucked under their arms lined the desk at the Pro Shop in Cal Poly’s Recreation Center. They gave their name and were handed a smooth gray rock.
Without a second glance, the students headed upstairs to Studio 2 where a man in a Led Zeppelin T-shirt and loose-fitting cargo pants (the instructor) asked them if they had their token.
One after the other, the students held up their rocks to show the man that they did in fact have their token.
“Please put the rocks in the bucket and find a spot,” instructor Richard Manuputy said.
Manuputy is the instructor for Hatha Yoga, a combination of different poses that covers a broad range of yoga techniques.
With wispy gray hair and a deep calming voice, he gives students a run (or stretch) for their yoga enthusiasm.
“Challenge yourself,” Manuputy said throughout the class. “But do not force your body.”
Manuputy has been practicing yoga since 1975 and considers himself a well-seasoned Yogin. He also runs an art business with his wife called Peaceful Planet Images.
“We design arts and crafts, specialize in murals, faux finishes and architectural accents, ceramics and textile art,” Manuputy said.
Simply participating in Manuputy’s class might not be as fulfilling if you don’t take the time to talk to him after — there’s more to him than meets the eye.
“One who practices Yoga is referred to as a Yogin, also Yogi for males and Yogini for females,” Manuputy said. “Yoga has survived for thousands of years and depending how far and how deep you wish to take it, its benefits are incalculable.”
Yoga is most often translated into “union,” Manuputy said. With Hatha Yoga, Manuputy’s specialty, the word “Hatha” is a compound word.
“‘Ha’ means sun,” Manuputy said. “And ‘tha’ means moon. It is the union of the sun and the moon, referring to the balancing of two opposing forces in the body.”
Hatha is the kind of yoga most westerners are familiar with, Manuputy said. When one works with movement of the body, one is practicing Hatha Yoga.
All yoga at the Rec Center falls under the heading of Hatha Yoga, according to Manuputy. They give the practice various names depending on the style such as Bikram, Power and Restorative.
Eric Alexander, Assistant Program Coordinator to Fitness at the Rec Center, mentioned the diversity in the yoga practices offered.
“Each of the different styles of yoga we offer have a different focus,” Alexander said. “We also have great diversity with our team of instructors.”
Human Being Training Yoga
Amanda Lambert teaches Human Being Training Yoga, a style of yoga that teaches students how to aspire to be real human beings.
“It’s guided movements to help relieve stress and strengthen you inside and out,” Lambert said. “It’s also about overcoming the fear of death and asking the tough questions.”
After her Human Being Training class had ended, Lambert thanked the students for coming.
Soon after, a line formed to speak with her and give her a hug.
“Sometimes it’s a hard truth for a student to understand, but this class can be essential to your development,” Lambert said.
Lambert trained at the Santa Barbara Yoga Center with a focus in precision, healing and strength.
According to her website, she has come up with her own definition of Human Being Training Yoga and what it means to be a real human being: “a real human being is one who has remembered and reclaimed his or her innate, profound freedom and has acquired the courage to exercise the ultimate responsibility that comes with such freedom.”
There’s a deeper meaning behind the poses and breathing done in this class, and by listening to Lambert speak to her students as they go from downward dog to child’s pose, it’s obvious her words have an effect.
This is evident in the line of students that form to speak with her after class.
Human Being Training is meant to be fun, Lambert said. It is music-infused with a variety of poses that get you moving and breathing.
Similar to Human Being Training Yoga, Vinyasa Yoga works body and mind.
Alison Jones is a new yoga instructor this fall at Cal Poly and teaches a Vinyasa class.
“I became a certified teacher in March 2014 and have been teaching in SLO for the past year and a half,” Jones said. “My yoga practice started while I was a student at Cal Poly so I am very excited to be teaching on campus.”
Vinyasa Yoga, like Hatha and Human Being Training Yoga, is not so much meant for napping, as some students may initially think. If you are participating in a yoga class to catch a few Z’s, you will be sorely disappointed.
“Vinyasa can be defined as the linking of movement with breath,” Jones said. “Typically Vinyasa Yoga classes are more active, challenging both the students’ body and mind.”
One thing to remember when you sign up for one of these classes is that there is no room for comparison.
“It’s not a competition,” Jones said. “It’s a practice. We are all on our own unique journey — and part of our practice is to be focused in our present, which could be different on a day-to-day basis.”
Visit the Rec Center’s website to browse the various types of yoga classes and sign up.
“This is about being open, receptive and having a good time,” Lambert said. “It’s what we are designed to do.”
Correction: part of Richard Manuputy’s biography has been edited for clarity.