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Knee injury leads fitness instructor to develop own form of yoga

CHRISTY LATTIN
Nevada Appeal News Service

FALLON – After a long career in the fitness industry and recovery from a knee injury, yoga instructor Syena Sowden has finally achieved her dream – but it took a long time to get there.

Following the birth of her first child in 1971, Sowden began taking stretch and tone classes at the YMCA in Reno.

“I had just turned 20, married and just had a baby. I could take my belly skin and stretch it out,” she laughed.

She said within two months of beginning the class, the instructor urged her to begin teaching classes of her own – and so her career in fitness began.

From there, Sowden and her young family moved to Boston where she was educated through the Gloria Stevens women’s fitness business. On top of regular aerobics classes, she said the business included training to recognize what kind of exercises worked for bad backs, a nutrition component and sales training.

“We taught classes every hour on the hour,” she recalled.

Sowden returned to the Fallon area in the late 1970s and operated her own fitness center until her second child was born. Living in California in the mid-1980s, she earned a certificate to teach group fitness classes, the first year certificates were made available.

Fate brought her back to Fallon once more and she resumed teaching at local fitness centers. In 2005, she opened her own business, The Energy Center, focusing on yoga and pilates.

What prompted this aerobics instructor to start yoga?

“I hurt my knee,” she said. “I had actually done a cartwheel into the splits at age 45. It felt like something popped in the back of my knee.”

Sowden got a yoga tape and began with simple stretching.

“Over a period of five years, I got the full range of movement back. And then I just didn’t stop.”

She became a certified yoga instructor – and the rest just fell into place.

Over the period of 10 months, Sowden created her own movement system combining tai chi, yoga and rhythmic tribal movements. She calls it MoTiYoGaChi pronounced “Moe-Tie-Yo-Gah-Chee.”

Out-of-town visitors to her Fallon class often requested a video of the MoTiYoGaChi, and Sowden seized upon the idea.

“People would get addicted to it,” she said. “I thought, if I could do something like that in DVD form, what a great gift. Also, there are many people who would never walk into a class.”

A friend of a friend led Sowden to someone who filmed portions of the MoTiYoGaChi DVD at Grimes Point, Sand Mountain, Lake Lahontan and Lake Tahoe. For the studio shots, Sowden was able to get six of her students to voluntarily fly to Los Angeles for the one-day shoot.

“Everybody flew down, we practiced late in the afternoon in the hotel and the next morning, at 8 a.m., we showed up on set,” Sowden said. “We flew back that afternoon. We only shot it one time through. It was just a phenomenal, phenomenal thing.”

After pulling the music and post-production together, Sowden is now trying to market the video to a larger audience. She’s been to holistic living expos and said she did well at a women’s expo in Reno.

“It’s given me some hope,” she said. “But it’s really challenging if you don’t have a famous person out there marketing it.”

For now, Sowden is using her newly acquired Los Angeles contacts to market the DVD and focusing on teaching daily classes at The Energy Center. She also does personal training and said she can go to businesses to teach people how to relax.

If you go

WHAT: MoTiYoGaChi by Syena Sowden

WHERE: Kula Yoga Studio, 343 Fairview Drive, No. 204

WHEN: 5:30 p.m. on Mondays, starts Sept. 10th

Call: 1( 866) 482-4244

COST: $10 per class

DVD: $20

WHAT: MoTiYoGaChi workshops

WHERE: Kula Yoga Studio

WHEN: Sept. 15 at 3:00-4:45 p.m. and

Sept. 30 at 9:30-11:15 a.m.

COST: $15 per class

Directions: Go East on Fairview from Highway 395. Take the first right, California Street. Turn into the first driveway on left. The Kula yoga studio is upstairs.