Yoga no stretch at Colley Complex

Published 12:00 am Monday, January 13, 2003

The class is yoga but with all the fun of a Yogi Bear cartoon.

Each stretch of the muscles and each creak of the bones brought laughter from the ladies who participated with all the determination of &uot;The Little Engine that Could.&uot;

With an &uot;I think I can&uot; attitude, the ladies bent, stretched, reached, pulled and leaned farther than they thought possible.

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Nuri Abdur-Rahman gave the class a concise definition of what yoga is.

&uot;Yoga is a holistic approach to mind, body and spirit using certain postures called asana,&uot; Nuri said.

The goal of yoga is to bring the mind and body into a mutual state of well being, balance, ease and vibrant alertness.

Nuri demonstrated the basic yoga positions to the class Monday Wednesday night and the ladies mirrored her movements as best as they could.

&uot;My body doesn’t want to do like that,&uot; one lady quipped.

&uot;Mine can’t,&uot; another said. And everyone laughed.

Although muscles resisted, no one was uptight about being &uot;senior&uot; and in a class that had them trying to get their bodies into postures of juniors.

&uot;Oh, this hurts,&uot; one lady said as she reached for her toes.

&uot;Keep your legs straight,&uot; Nuri prompted another.

&uot;You wish,&uot; the lady said and everyone laughed.

The little aches and pains and embarrassing moments did not deter any of the ladies from their mission – to increase their flexibility or to regain it.

&uot;Every posture is not for everybody, but anyone of any age can benefit from yoga,&uot; Nuri said. &uot;There were two women in New York who practiced yoga until they died. One was 104 years old and the other was 106.&uot;

Practicing yoga can’t guarantee one a longer life but it can make life easier, more comfortable and less accident-prone.

&uot;Improved flexibility and the ability to relax are two very important benefits of yoga,&uot; Nuri said. &uot;The more flexible you are, the easier it is to move and the more comfortable movement is. The more flexible you are, the more likely you are to avoid injury such as pulling your back out.

&uot;There is a saying that you are only as young as your spine. If the spine is flexible, you are able to move with ease and comfort and enjoy life without stress and strain on the muscle areas. A flexible spine eases the tension and helps relieve neck aches and pains.&uot;

The yoga postures also help the body to relax.

&uot;The postures have a calming effect on the body as do the breathing techniques that we teach,&uot; Nuri said. &uot;Most of us don’t know how to relax our bodies or how to breathe correctly. We are shallow breathers. We don’t breathe deeply from the diaphragm. In yoga, you learn to inhale and exhale to a count and that helps you to breathe correctly and to relax.&uot;

Nuri said many diseases are related to stress and yoga is one way to reduce and relieve stress.

&uot;You become more aware of what is going on in your body,&uot; she said. &uot;The more aware you are the more centered and balanced you can become.&uot;

One of the most recognized yoga postures is the lotus or meditation posture.

&uot;lt is an easy sitting posture,&uot; Nuri said. &uot;It is what we used to call sitting Indian style.&uot;

It is that posture that causes some people to raise an eyebrow.

&uot;Yoga is a spiritual practice with a physical component,&uot; Nuri said. &uot;Yoga will in no way interfere with anyone’s religious practice. There is no deity worship. There is nothing spooky about it nor is there a booming voice from the heavens. Yoga provides you with an opportunity to meditate – to be still and listen – for things to come to balance — to centerness.&uot;

A walk in the woods, listening to the birds sing, watching a sunset, many things can be spiritual, Nuri said. &uot;We do not need to confuse religion with spirituality.&uot;

Yoga is a practice that allows one to relax and reflect while improving flexibility and mobility or bringing it back to the body.

When it is done with others, it also provides opportunities for fellowship and laughter.

The yoga class at the Colley Senior Complex is open to seniors 50 years and older. The classes are taught on Mondays and Wednesdays at 5:30 p.m. and on Tuesdays and Thursdays at 8 a.m. Classes are an hour and 15 minutes in length.

For more information about the classes contact the Colley Senior Complex at 808-8500.