Positive Alternative to Yoga Article- Certified Praisemoves Instructor Evonne Mandella

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Positive alternative
PraiseMoves offers worship with exercise

By: ELAINE BRACKIN | Dothan Eagle
Published: May 18, 2012

DOTHAN, Ala. --
Evonne Mandella was seeking an exercise program that would help improve her physical well-being that did not conflict with her Christian beliefs. She ruled out yoga as a possibility, because she didn’t feel it met her spiritual needs. In her search, she came upon a workout routine developed by Laurette Willis called PraiseMoves. Her search had found an answer.

“PraiseMoves is an alternative to yoga,” Mrs. Mandella said. “Yoga appeals to you for the relaxation aspect, but it is Hinduism. It doesn’t align with Christianity and the fact the Holy Spirit dwells in me. PraiseMoves aligns with my faith. It is much deeper as a worship experience.”

The program so intrigued Mandella that, when it became available, she took the course required to become a certified PraiseMoves instructor.

“Anyone can become a certified trainer, if they are willing to study and train for it,” she said. “I took the course. I had been doing the program for several years before she offered the certification. You go through a month of intense training. You study the manuals and take tests. Laurette puts you through training over the internet. As part of the requirements for certification, you have to send her videos of you doing the exercises.

“As part of the training you must also prove your faith. You must give up yoga (if you ever started it) and you must dress modestly. Those are all things that I like.”

Initially, Mandella studied the program for the benefit of her family. She says this serves as her family’s gym membership.

“It’s something we like to do together,” she noted.

Mandella, who home schools her children, Caleb and Charis, says the program also serves as a valuable teaching tool for her children.

“This program goes along with our home-school Bible time (because of its emphasis on learning Bible verses along with the exercises).

“People often ask if this is Christian yoga. The answer is no. It’s different from yoga, although some of the positions may look similar. There are only so many ways you can stretch your body.”

Biblical instruction is a central part of the program. Getting fit physically, mentally and spiritually is an important aspect of the stretching routines and light aerobic exercises.

“During the program, we put on the whole armor of God while we exercise,” she continued. “There’s a part in the program called ‘Fitness for His Witness.’ We use that to evangelize. It’s a great way to draw people to your church. The class is a good conversation starter to share your Christian faith.”

The program consists of gentle fitness exercises, light aerobics, stretching and wraps up with a time of prayer, confession and praise.

“We open with what Laurette calls the ‘Walk in Wisdom Warm-up,’” Mandella said. “One of the exercises is theJerichoMarch. It provides a lot of scriptural affirmation. I love that. Later in the day, my children and I can say the scripture verses together.”

After the initial warm-up phase the program moves to the different postures (based on the 22 letters of the Hebrew alphabet).

“In the posture or stretching phase, through that we recite the scriptures,” Mandella said. “They can repeat them with me or listen to me. It’s a very stress-reducing activity. It’s recommended that we stretch two to three times a week to maintain strength and to help prevent osteoporosis.

“It’s also good for weight loss. It gets your metabolism going. I like the fact that scripture is a part of every activity. And, I love doing something positive. I feel it is a gift to me, to others and to the Lord. It also helps you to shake off the blues and point our eyes up. It counters a lot of negativity, and the scriptures stay in your mind. It’s a program that is great for children as well as adults.

“I want to appeal to people that this is a positive, Christian alternative to yoga.”

Mandella currently teaches a class atMt.GileadBaptistChurchthat is strictly for members of the church and their guests. Mandella, who is insured and CPR-trained, says she is available to present the program to other churches, civic and women’s groups to see if there is an interest in having her teach a class. If a class is started, the first one is offered free of charge. The fee thereafter is $5 women or $8 for a family. No contracts are involved, and payment is made at each class.

From her personal experience, Mandella says PraiseMoves has provided a healthy outlet for her family while helping theme grow spiritually.

“This program shows that exercise can be fun and spiritual,” Mandella said.

For more information, contact Evonne Mandella by email at evonnemandella@yahoo.com.