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CCEEC offers yoga classes to help with mental and physical health

A few years ago, while taking stock in my mental and physical health, I mentioned to a friend that I might check out the yoga classes being held at a local facility. I told her that I had read that it helps with arthritis, balance of body and mind, strengthens muscles, relaxes and calms. The list goes on and on about the benefits.

Why wouldn’t I want to do this?

She scoffed and told me that yoga was definitely not for me. I was a little put off by that but I assumed she knew what she was talking about.

A little hurt and a lot discouraged, I pushed that idea out of my mind as something I wasn’t ever going to do. I think she was politely telling me that women in my age bracket and fitness level didn’t do yoga.

That was a number of years ago and obviously this friend didn’t know as much as I assumed.

When I first met our volunteer, Lori Wolf, she mentioned she was a yoga instructor.

I laughingly said, “That’s not something I can do!” She cocked her head to the side and looked at me rather puzzled, asking why I thought that. I waved my hand in my general direction and said, “Well, I mean … I am not in the best shape.”

She quickly informed me that I could do yoga. I was doubtful, thinking that she was just being nice and did not want to insult me since she just started volunteering at the center.

We had discussed having yoga classes at the center and we were really looking forward to offering something new to our members and nonmembers. We spent some time discussing how we could set up the room with social distancing, keeping instructor and participants safe. It was a plan. Then we received word that we would be closing our doors again. So the plans were put on hold.

As we started planning programs for the new year, the staff started to envision which programs would be suited for the virtual world. I had watched a few yoga videos, thinking I wouldn’t tell my friend I was doing this when it dawned on me that Lori might be willing to teach a few classes for us virtually. She said yes! We have had two classes and have a few more planned virtually until we can open our doors and have classes in person.

Lori began taking yoga classes in her 30s and she found the stretching and breathing helped her in unexpected ways. She was able to sleep better and she was able to deal with stress and work. She found that she felt more connected and clearer.

“When the opportunity to do teacher training came my way, I had no intention to ever teach a class. I learned to teach primarily to deepen my own practice and learn more about yoga.”

This was about 15 years ago. Being certified, people approached her to teach classes, which turned into job offers. She found her comfort zone and has been teaching a few classes a week ever since.

“I love doing yoga and have developed a teaching style. I teach through words and demonstration. I do not do hands-on corrections. Every person has limits or injuries that they deal with. If I felt a student was in a posture that could be injurious I would offer modification or even a different pose to find a similar stretch. If I see every student in the class is looking different, I am so happy they are listening to what their body is telling them.

“It is not the teacher’s class. I am only there to guide; it is the students’ class,” Wolf said.

For more information about upcoming yoga classes and how to register for them, please call Carbon County Environmental Education Center at 570-645-8597.

Jeannie Carl is a naturalist at the Carbon County Environmental Education Center in Summit Hill. The center rehabilitates injured animals and educates the public on a variety of wildlife found in the area. For information on the Carbon County Environmental Center, visit www.carboneec.org.

Lori Wolf stands in a yoga pose during one of her classes at the Carbon County Environmental Education Center. JEANNIE CARL/SPECIAL TO THE TIMES NEWS