Yoga studio offers classes for seniors

Yoga studio offers classes for seniors

Williamsport Sun-Gazette | February 18, 2015


Sun-Gazette Correspondent

Sometimes when people think about yoga, they picture a rigorous class that involves difficult stretches and poses that push the limits of one’s flexibility.

But, while it can offer more challenging elements, yoga at its base is an exercise in relaxation, breathing and paying attention to your body.

As a matter of fact, you can even practice it at any age.

Trudy’s Barefoot Yoga Studio in Montoursville began offering yoga classes for senior citizens a few months ago to help seniors in the community maintain a sense of fitness and well-being, and will continue to offer them in six-week cycles for the foreseeable future.

The classes are taught by instructor Wanda Hendershot, a retired nurse who got the idea to offer senior-specific classes while she herself was practicing yoga.

“Being there as a senior member, I thought, there’s got to be a lot of people out there in the community who would benefit from this if we could get them interested,” she said

After her idea’s initial inception, Hendershot worked with the studio’s owner, Trudy Fritts, to recruit seniors from the community and organize the classes.

At first, they had no idea what the skill levels of the participants would be, so they were prepared to modify the exercises as much as necessary to meet the needs of the group.

But Hendershot was pleasantly surprised to find that, although the majority of participants had never practiced yoga before, they all responded well to her instructions and have been able to build up their skills by challenging themselves over time.

“The group that we have is absolutely amazing,” she said.

Sandy Cleveland, who started attending the classes as a way to get exercise during the winter months said she came to the class with no expectations, but now loves practicing yoga.

“I love the relaxation,” she said. “”I’m looking forward to doing it in the summer now as well as in the winter.”

Another student, Vickie Marks, said that she would encourage anyone to try yoga to experience the benefits it brings.

“I’m 53 years old and I never did yoga before,” she said. “I didn’t think I’d be able to do it, but I’ve really felt myself strengthen over time.”

At last count, there were nine participants who regularly attend classes, but the studio can accommodate more. 

Hendershot and Fritts are hoping to increase the number of students in the classes, and believe that the main challenge is to show seniors that yoga really is a viable way for them to stay in shape.

“Yoga benefits everyone of all ages,” Fritts said “As we age, we begin to lose balance. Yoga helps with balance and strength, as well as breathing.”

“It’s physical, but it’s also a de-stresser,” Hendershot said.

Hendershot sees yoga as an opportunity for retirees to focus on themselves and do something that keeps them feeling healthy and energized.

“If you’re not in a positive state, you can’t continue to help other people,” she said.

Trudy’s Barefoot Yoga Studio, located in the Farm Complex on Pierce Lane in Montoursville, has a cozy, homelike atmosphere. It the studio’s third location for Fritts, who has been teaching yoga for over 35 years.

“Teaching yoga is my passion. Helping clients have a better quality of life gives me great satisfaction,” she said.

For Cleveland, the classes often leave her feeling energized rather than drained, and she encourages others to try the classes.

“It really is so good for you,” she said. “I think a lot of people are scared, but it’s really just a wonderful thing to do.”

Senior classes are currently offered at 10:15 a.m. on Tuesdays and Fridays for an hour. Each six-week cycle costs $40, and participants are issued a punch card to keep track of the 12 classes.

Any seniors who are interested in joining the classes are encouraged to contact the studio at 570-660-6066, or to stop in.

Senior Yoga
Original publication (click to view larger)

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