JOPLIN, Mo. —
The competitive drive pushed Dai Flake to run. To the point of injury. As her knee slowly degraded, Flake also noticed how tight everything on her body was. Legs. Arms. Neck.
"Being that tight catches up with you," Flake said. "If you don't stretch, you won't have any flexibility."
But the tightest thing may have been her spirit, she said.
Now her spirit is just as flexible as her frame.
A practitioner of yoga, Flake is a relatively new teacher who has something to offer fellow runners and other active people: a little peace.
Flake operates Downtown Yoga, a new yoga studio at Fourth and Virginia. She has taught yoga for the Joplin Family Y and at Run Around Running Company and recently opened her own studio on Main Street.
The new facility lets her and her students stretch out a bit more.
And she said that a session is no race, with no finish line.
"This is not another form of competition," Flake said. "That's what I want to share. This complements any activity and keeps everything nice and loose."
Yoga is a system of physical and mental practices that originated in India.
Based on stretching, movements and meditation, it now includes many different varieties of philosophies, regimens and other characteristics.
Flake practices ashtanga yoga, a more modern version of yoga that puts more of an emphasis on physical movements and flexibility, Flake said. It's also referred to as "power" or "eight-limb" yoga. Strength-building is very minimal in this form, Flake said: Participants need only a mat for the floor.
"We are not dependent on machines or weights," Flake said. "I feel that using the body's own weight is enough to keep the body strong."
She and her husband, Rich, a veteran of the U.S. Air Force, have lived around the world, including Japan and Hawaii. While living in San Antonio, Texas, she discovered yoga after cumulative damage from marathons and other running took its toll on her knee.
A friend recommended yoga to her, and she dove in.
"I tried some prenatal yoga when I was pregnant in Hawaii," Flake said. "But in San Antonio is where I discovered an amazing teacher."