Each week, a gentle stretch kind of yoga class is offered at H2U Health Center at MountainView Hospital.
Yoga has been offered there since 1999. It’s a small group, led by Christian Kaufman. The largest classes see six or eight attendees. The cost is $5 a class for members of H2U; membership costs $20 annually.
Benefits of yoga include less stress, better sleep, toned muscles, balance and a sense of calm. Rita Moore, H2U program manager, said there is also a spiritual side.
“You come in all frustrated and upset, but in the class, you get to be one with yourself,” she said.
Kerry Fezza rarely misses a class.
“H2U, a lot of people have the misconception that it’s for 50 or older, but I started when I was 40,” she said. “I like Christian, and it’s inexpensive.”
Mary Ellen Bourgeois has been attending the H2U yoga classes for more than 10 years. She’s 83.
“My physicians encouraged me to keep up with yoga because it’s so beneficial for my body,” she said. “It’s good for my balance and agility. I’m surprised at the things my body can do, the way it can stretch. It feels so good.”
Kaufman set up the Bluetooth with soothing music and had the attendees sit in a lotus pose, which increases circulation in the lumbar spine, tones the abdomen and increases flexibility in the hips.
“Center your awareness to the center of your body,” he said, his voice light and calming. “Take a deep breath.”
He led various movements: chin up, chin down, shoulder roll, face to side, shoulders back, stretching the spine.
Next, canvas straps were used to stretch out the legs. Balancing poses followed: the mountain, the eagle and variations thereof. Bracing against the wall was encouraged if one didn’t feel at ease.
Mats were rolled out and pillows nearby to adjust for knee and hip heights. The table pose had participants on their hands and knees.
“Imagine your spine being very flexible,” Kaufman told them.
After a couple of more stretching poses, he turned off the lights. The meditation portion was quiet, soothing, the music off.
H2U offers similar programming such as Dancing with Parkinson’s and MS Stretch and Flex, the latter for those with multiple sclerosis.
Contact Jan Hogan at firstname.lastname@example.org or 702-387-2949.
By the numbers
In 2012, roughly 20.4 million Americans participated in yoga, according to the 2016 Yoga in America Study conducted by Yoga Alliance Yoga and Yoga Journal. By 2016, it was more than 36 million.