Nurturing body, mind and spirit with regular yoga classes
By Kristian Partington
Barb Anderson’s mother used to wake early every morning to her regular yoga practice, beginning her day in quiet, focused stretching. It was a way of life for her and something Barb always remembered. About 10 years ago, she decided to explore whether or not yoga had a place in her own life, but at the time, due to knee troubles, she wasn’t physically able to participate in the classes she joined.
Today, however, the full spectrum of benefits housed in the yoga philosophy are open to Barb since she began taking classes at the Village of Arbour Trails under the guidance of Rita Cupitt, of Blue Heron Body and Soul Yoga.
Back in the spring, she walked into her first class warily, unsure whether she’d be able to participate, but she says Rita “is very accommodating” and, though it may sound a little too good to be true, the arthritic pain in her knee seemed to melt away after that first class. Though the pain still rears itself at times, overall there has definitely been an improvement.
Rita, who’s been working specifically with seniors for 14 years, says the physical benefits of yoga are certainly important to highlight, but many other aspects of the yoga philosophy help students enhance their lives in meaningful ways. “Yoga is a way of life,” she says. “It’s not just about being more active, it’s about finding peace and calm.”
She’s had many students over the years tell her that breathing techniques and meditative focus helps to relieve anxiety, which can be a large burden in the lives of many older adults – including those living in a retirement setting. Barb for example, recently lost her mother and she now helps support her 95-year-old father, with whom she shares an apartment at Arbour Trails.
Her time with Rita and fellow students, who come from within the village and the community beyond, helps ground Barb in the present moment and arms her with new approaches to every day life outside of the classes.
“It’s one of the highlights of my week,” Barb says. “It’s very centering, very stress-relieving. It’s amazing how quickly into the class you realize that you’re not thinking about anything else that’s going on outside of the class. I definitely feel relaxed at the end.”
This is part of the ongoing learning experience that Rita presents. People learn to be present in the moment over time, and eventually, “It’s not about being in the room and doing the practice,” she says, “it’s about taking what you learned here out into everyday life.”
Barb often draws upon this valuable education, she says. When agitation enters her days, for example, as it inevitably does for everyone, she reminds herself to “live in the moment; what’s happened in the past is the past,” she says, “and you can’t predict the future.”