“I can't do yoga poses because I can't bend myself into a pretzel”. This is a typical misconception associated with the practice of yoga. Yoga is a combination of physical positions (asan) and controlled breathing exercises (pranayama). Developing a routine to incorporate yoga into your life has many benefits.
Balance can be positively impacted by practicing balancing poses while standing on one leg, such as tree pose. Balance is needed by every person, for simple everyday activities such as putting on pants or picking something up off the floor.
Yoga can improve cardiovascular functioning by controlling the pace of breathing as evidenced by favorable changes in heart rate, stroke capacity, arterial pressure, and contractility of the heart. It may improve the quality of sleep as you may be able to fall asleep more quickly and have deeper sleep. This is partly due to the exercise, mental calming though poses and breathing exercises, and meditation all of which are a part of the practice of yoga.
Yoga may positively impact bone health and strength by holding poses like the plank pose This pose is an upper pushup position, the arms, trunk, and legs are all engaged. Yoga promotes better posture and body awareness. Its focus on mobility, flexibility and strength can contribute to better postural alignment.
Yoga can also improve mental health by using breathing techniques and focus, while movement/exercise in general can positively impact depression and anxiety. It may also improve self-esteem and body image.
The Lowell community has several organizations that offer classes to learn about and practice yoga. Family Yoga is offered at the Englehardt branch of the Kent District Library. Family yoga is an activity for all ages that includes engaging in fun poses, learning how to breathe, exploring how to be creative with activities and games, as well as to relax. Participants have ranged from 2 1/2 to 83 years old! This program is taught by Sarah Ryder, a registered yoga teacher. Family yoga helps to promote family bonding as families learn and practice yoga together. Sarah has observed children encouraging their parents to try new poses! Older participants model good health practices while practicing strengthening and balance types of exercise.
Furthermore, children can benefit from socializing with peers during yoga class and develop comfort with their bodies moving thorough space. Yoga teaches a technique called mindfulness which is learning to be present by being fully engaged which helps increase attention. This can carry over to help with focus in school and promote learning.
When the family leaves the class, they can continue to practice yoga at home reinforcing learned poses and techniques. Family yoga is currently offered in person at the library with mats, straps, and blocks available for use. These free classes are offered four times a year; January- February, April-May, June- August and September- November, in 10-week sessions, meeting on Saturdays 10:30-11:00 am. You can attend one or all sessions as each session is unique.
Yoga DVDs and books are available at the library. The Englehardt branch is located at 200 N Monroe St, Lowell, MI 49331. Information about family yoga can be found by visiting the library, viewing the facebook page of Kent District Library Englehardt branch under events or visiting the Kent Distict Library website for the Englehardt branch at: https://kdl.org/locations/LOW/?_ga=2.25150842.1146678032.1670353066-1313386229.1670353066
Sarah Ryder also offers yoga sessions at The Hammock. Sarah is an Occupational Therapist and health and wellness coach in as well as a registered yoga instructor. The Hammock has a variety of yoga classes to meet individual needs and abilities. These consist of individual sessions, gentle yoga, and mixed level classes.
Gentle yoga is designed for those who may struggle with being on the floor, deconditioned or lack strength. Mixed level class focuses on enhancing balance, improving flexibility, and building core strength. Classes are offered in the studio or on-line. Sarah says yoga is able to “take you into the present moment”. It is valuable to adults and children to learn and practice skills to care for themselves. As our bodies age practicing yoga can improve the quality of life through balance, strength, flexibility, and mindfulness. Practicing yoga can allow you to wake up in the morning up feeling refreshed and ready to meet the day. The Hammock is located at 1703 Alden Nash Ave. S.E., Lowell, MI 49331. Contact by phone: 616-893-5661. Web page www.hammockllc.com.
References: Jessica McLeod-Sopczynski, MLIS, librarian at Kent District Library Englehardt branch interviewed by Karen Walker, November 17, 2022
Sarah Ryder, OTRL, RYT, Certified Wellness Coach, The Hammock, interviewed by Karen Walker, November 17, 2022
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