Jeff Kripitz should be the typical stressed-out businessman. At 58, he owns his own company in Northfield, and balances work and family life.
Yet Kripitz is far from stressed. In fact, his attitude is pretty zen.
Inside a local yoga studio, Kripitz can forget about his day, he said, and just breathe. His 25-year-old daughter introduced him to the practice of yoga - and now, he says, he's hooked.
"What I really like about yoga is it gets oxygen to parts of your body that you don't get a lot of oxygen to," said Kripitz, owner of the Jeff Kripitz Agency, an insurance brokerage firm. "It has made a difference for me. It really has."
Yoga's many benefits go beyond the physical. A regular yoga practice, local instructors say, combines controlled breathing, stretching exercises and meditation to alleviate and sometimes eliminate stress and tension. Adults of all ages are turning to the practice now more than ever.
"You tune out all the thoughts racing through your head and focus on one thing - breathing," said Judy Heany, owner of Balance Pilates and Yoga Studio in Cape May. "We live in a society where you are constantly bombarded with information. It's not a calming environment. Yoga takes you to that other environment ... that's why it appeals to people who want stress reduction."
Melissa Holzman Goldstein, owner of NJ Yoga Zone in Margate, said yoga can also combat physical stress.
"The daily grind ... creates tremendous physical stress on our bodies," Holzman Goldstein said. "Yoga practice leads to an increased range of motion, meaning you are less likely to injure yourself in your daily activities."
Since incorporating a weekly yoga practice into his schedule, Kripitz said he sleeps better, moves better and feels better overall.
"After a class, I feel like I'm floating above the ground," Kripitz said. "It feels wonderful."
Still, some adults may be intimidated by the idea of yoga practice - and the images of advanced yogis twisting into complicated poses. But local instructors say it's not about doing tricks.
"It's not Cirque de Soleil," said Laurie Greene, of Yoga Nine, which has locations in Ship Bottom and Smithville. "The movement can be great. The movement can be small. You can lie on your back and just breathe."
The breath, Holzman Goldstein said, is the cornerstone of yoga. A beginner yoga practice can simply include a breath series, she said.
"With its focus on full, cleansing breaths, yoga breathing is a simple, yet powerful, relaxation technique," Holzman Goldstein said. "It's easy to learn, it can be practiced almost anywhere, and it provides a quick way to get your stress levels in check."
The key to any good yoga practice, Greene said, is focus.
"What yoga gives you the skills to do is absolutely focus on the present," Greene said. "What yoga does is it marries breath and movement. The evenness of breath, coupled with evenness of motion, brings you to evenness of mind."