Tribune Print Share Text

The yoga of balance

Finding strength, serenity through ancient discipline

Created date

May 24th, 2011

Every Tuesday and Thursday morning, resident yogis at Wind Crest, an Erickson Living community in Highlands Ranch, Colo., wake up and head to the mat. It s on this mat that they stretch their bodies to and beyond their limits with the practice of hatha yoga. Here, residents learn to listen to their bodies to improve balance, flexibility, range of motion, and general all-around wellness and peace of mind.

Flow, stretch, breathe, repeat

Nancy Levenson has been teaching yoga at Wind Crest for four years. Owner of her own studio, NamasteWorks, and certified professional yoga therapist, Levenson has a passion for teaching seniors, her primary clientele even in her private studio. To be a strong teacher, one has to work with seniors because with this population, the teacher is exposed to every condition, Levenson says. Both the teacher and the students learn from what their bodies are telling them listen, learn patience, learn their limits, and how to stretch beyond them. Hatha yoga, translated as sun ( ha ) and moon ( tha ), has been defined as the yoga of balance; by combining asanas (postures) with pranayama (controlled breathing), the yoga is said to bring union to opposites, namely body and mind. Wind Crest s Tuesday class consists of the more gentle flow poses, while the Thursday class is more vigorous with different varieties of Sun Salutations. Make no mistake, even the gentle poses are challenging, but the practice allows people to challenge themselves as much as they re willing. As long as you re patient and persistent, you can improve, like Wind Crest resident John Guyer. When John first came into my class six months ago, his spine was getting stiff, and now he moves easier and stands straighter, Levenson says. How does Guyer feel about yoga? I get along with yoga, he says with a smile.

Come as you are, leave invigorated

Many different levels of yogis participate at Wind Crest, from beginners to lifelong practitioners, like Margaret Hinderliter, who has studied yoga for over 35 years with the masters in India. Anne Rice, Marylou Middleton, and Herb Schaffer all found yoga when they moved to Wind Crest and agree that Levenson is a wonderful teacher. Wind Crest s yogis are also in agreement that yoga allows them to be more limber, but like each body has its own story and limits, individuals practice for reasons as unique as they are. For Schaffer, it makes him feel good that he can do the poses and stretch deep and go a little further into the poses each week. For Kay Lines, she says she d hate to see her body without yoga. Lines was diagnosed with polio when she was nine years old, and she started practicing 35 years ago because she didn t want her body to decline. Before moving to Wind Crest, Lines was afraid she wouldn t be able to find a good teacher on campus and didn t want to compromise her practice. Now she attends Levenson s classes and practices every day in her apartment home, where she has plenty of space to do her routines. Community member Marge Pearsall credits yoga for improving her balance and walking strength, and Allen Thomas, who actively lifts weights and does cardio, says he takes yoga because it s relaxing and challenging at the same time. However unique their reasons are to practice yoga, while on the mat, Wind Crest yogis are united in one purpose to pay attention to what the body is saying, to connect more deeply, to listen, to respond.