Stress? Stretch Out with Free “All Body” Yoga at UCPL in August

TENNERTON – When she says, “Yoga is for everyone”, a Buckhannon-based yoga teacher literally means “every body”.

A 200-hour registered yoga teacher, Susan Harsh believes that anyone with a body has the potential to benefit from yoga. Harsh is a huge fan of changing yoga poses, using props, and the idea that practicing yoga requires a small, perfectly toned frame.

“My approach to yoga is that if you have a body, you have a yoga body,” Harsh said. “Yoga is for all bodies – all ages, all fitness levels, all ability levels. Anyone can do yoga, but what I like to teach is not to change the body based on the pose; you change the pose of the body to make the pose accessible to all bodies, and it’s been such a pleasure to be able to share that with people.

Harsh will continue to share his approach through four free yoga classes hosted by the Upshur County Public Library during the month of August. The first yoga class, an adult vinyasa stream, is scheduled for 10 a.m. this Saturday, August 14. (Due to the recent increase in COVID-19 cases in Upshur County, this session will take place virtually.)

The classes – which also include a children’s yoga class and two chair yoga sessions – are made possible by a grant from the Pallottine Foundation of Buckhannon, said Beth Rogers, deputy director of the Upshur County Public Library. . Rogers, a yogi herself, said she got the grant before the pandemic to bolster the library’s efforts to serve as a hub for healthy living. Funding was postponed until 2021 and Harsh led classes throughout May, June and July.

August’s series of free yoga sessions will be the last – at least for now – and Rogers is hoping community members take advantage of the opportunity.

“One of the things that the Pallottine Foundation funds is healthy communities, and one of the movements in modern librarianship is this idea of ​​’What can libraries do, building on their role as providers of information and programs, to support healthy lifestyles in their communities “? ‘” she explained. “This stems from thinking about what different community organizations, like libraries, can do to support healthier lifestyles. . “

Not only has UCPL recently updated its collection on physical and mental health and wellness, but Rogers has also coordinated outdoor yoga classes and a walking book club.

“The problem with libraries is that we don’t charge,” Rogers said. “Anyone can come because there isn’t that economic barrier that there might be to joining a gym, for example. Even if you can only come for a few lessons, it can give you a first idea: “Do I like this? So you can taste what it is without having to invest any money.

Harsh, who has been practicing yoga since the age of 16, enjoys introducing yoga to people who have never tried it before.

“That’s what got me excited as a yoga instructor – the idea of ​​being able to offer it free to the community to bring people who might not otherwise have the opportunity to try a class. of yoga because of economic barriers given the levels of poverty we have. in our community, ”she said.

Harsh will be offering four free yoga classes during the month of August.

Yoga, defined as creating a union between mind, body and spirit, has the potential to improve the general well-being of each and everyone, especially since human beings are no longer so sensitive. to their physical body than they once were, Harsh said.

“I think in our modern world we are very disconnected from our own bodies for a variety of reasons, whether it’s because of bodily shame or being busy all the time,” she said. “For various reasons, we are not as connected to the physical embodiment of our body, and yoga is a great way to reconnect, to really know your body – what it can do, what it needs, and I think that in itself brings a really wonderful opportunity to love and appreciate yourself more.

It was important for Rogers to ensure that the library’s healthy lifestyles programming was suitable for a wide audience – ranging from young children to people who, due to pain or injury, might not be able to. participate in conventional standing yoga.

“I think what I like about Susan’s approach is the idea that yoga is for everyone,” Rogers said. “I’m in my 40s and I don’t bow to the way kids do, but learn to understand that there are still ways to get my body to do things it couldn’t do.” before is a rewarding journey. This is the advantage for me.

“I’m not an exercise person,” she added. “I was never one of those people who wanted to do tricks. I don’t understand that, so finding something that is a gentler approach to fitness that I can do on my own terms, almost, and in a way that works for my body was awesome.

Harsh initially liked yoga because she found it helped the way her mild spastic cerebral palsy manifested, but later reaped a whole host of emotional, mental and physical benefits from the practice. yoga.

“I have mild spastic cerebral palsy and have found it to be a way to bring more symmetry to my body and release some muscle tension that I wear regularly,” she said. “When I really got back into it in college, I realized how many mental health benefits I got in terms of calming – using these breathing techniques to calm me down. and regulate emotions. “

Like Rogers, Harsh never enjoyed running or competitive sports, but yoga was an attractive method of movement.

“In general, exercise has been found to decrease your levels of depression and anxiety – just physically moving your body helps – and for me, yoga is the practice I choose because it is relatively gentle on my joints, ”she said. “So I think a lot of people who come to it, if they stick to it, they go from that concrete experience of yoga – the physical poses – to the more abstract subtle impacts of yoga and that’s exactly what the eight members of yoga are. Every time you come to class you have the opportunity to practice, you have the opportunity to try something new … or maybe you are in some mental space and you get a different kind of benefit We are different every time we step on the mat, but yoga reaches us where we are.

UCPL adult and chair yoga sessions last approximately one hour and 15 minutes, while children’s yoga lasts approximately 45 minutes. If the classes are held in person outside, just bring yourself; a yoga mat if you have one and blankets if you don’t; Solar cream; the water; and any accessories you might have, such as bolsters or blocks.

For more information call 304-473-4219 or UCPL Facebook page.

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