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Week 3: Yoga for Health, Flexibility

Farai Chideya stretches at Yoga Works in Santa Monica, Calif.
Devin Robins, NPR
Farai Chideya stretches at Yoga Works in Santa Monica, Calif.

My trip to Yoga Works in Santa Monica, Calif., was the first time I've done yoga in more than a year. Yoga has a reputation for being all mellow and soft -- but often, that could not be further from the truth.

Since my weigh-in last week, I've lost three pounds. I've biked, walked and done sit-ups. But yoga has me whupped.

My workout was guided by James Brown -- yes, he's named after the Hardest Working Man in Show Business -- who led our 15-person class through some of the traditional poses of this ancient art.

Yoga has become a hot trend -- according to the magazine Yoga Journal, an estimated 16 million Americans spend almost $3 billion a year on classes and products. Yoga is being used as a mind-body workout everywhere from schools to prisons to hospitals.

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Farai Chideya
Farai Chideya is a multimedia journalist who has worked in print, television, online, and radio. Prior to joining NPR's News & Notes, Chideya hosted Your Call, a daily news and cultural call-in show on San Francisco's KALW 91.7 FM. Chideya has also been a correspondent for ABC News, anchored the prime time program Pure Oxygen on the Oxygen women's channel, and contributed commentaries to CNN, Fox, MSNBC, and BET. She got her start as a researcher and reporter at Newsweek magazine. In 1997 Newsweek named her to its "Century Club" of 100 people to watch.