Iyengar yoga at the senior center

Yoga instructor Kim Evezich (left) demonstrating a pose for the yoga class on Friday. Kathy Surratt (middle) and Madelon Daniels mirror the pose. Cynthia Sheeley/Torrington Telegram

Senior ladies gain strength and flexibility

TORRINGTON – Doing yoga daily can greatly improve stress management, mental health, mindfulness and flexibility, along with providing many other benefits. This is especially true for seniors. The senior yoga ladies, ranging from ages 66 to 88, have each felt these benefits at Torrington’s Senior Friendship Center’s yoga class. 

These dedicated women meet twice a week with their Iyengar yoga instructor Kim Evezich. On average the class has between four and 10 attendees. At most, they’ve had up to 14 attendees.

“Iyengar yoga, which is what I teach, is unique in that we use a lot of props and we use them in interesting ways,” Evezich said. 

According to www.iynaus.org’s “What is Iyengar Yoga?” page, “Iyengar Yoga is accessible for all ages and all body types. It is known for its focus on precision and timing and the use of props, which were designed by Mr. Iyengar and help the practitioner to achieve perfection in any asana. Regular practice of Iyengar Yoga integrates the body, mind and emotions.”

The site explained that Iyengar Yoga was created and developed 75 years ago by Yogacharya B.K.S. Iyengar. All Certified Iyengar Yoga Teachers (CIYTs) are required to go through rigorous training and evaluation before they can earn their certifications to teach. CIYTs are specially trained to provide clear demonstrations of each posture and are skilled at using simple props to maximize the opening and awareness of the body.

Throughout the session, the class moved through several different poses, including the down dog, warrior three and half-moon. With each pose the class utilized props like chairs, the railing on the wall, blankets and blocks to help them achieve each pose. 

“For the seniors, we use the chair, so they don’t feel wobbly, but still achieve the lift off of the floor,” Evezich explained. “It also opens things up more by giving you the ability to sort of relax into a pose, which may have been too challenging otherwise. The props help you with relaxation and alignment.”

Evezich said when she first started teaching yoga at the center the elderly ladies didn’t have much confidence and were a bit intimidated by some of the poses. However, now they all are more familiar with this type of yoga and are always willing to try their best during class. Evezich also provides demonstrations and explanations for poses and stretches that can be done at home. 

“[The yoga classes] have a bit of a calmer atmosphere,” Evezich said. “We laugh at each other. Yoga has the tendency to be more serious, but my classes aren’t.” 

Each of the members has been pleasantly surprised by how much yoga has impacted their lives. 

“I used to walk with my right shoulder down, but now I’m straight,” Kathy Surratt told the Telegram. “I have scoliosis, so my spine turns this way and that. The exercise straightened out my spine.” 

“I had a very serious surgery and the day of the surgery they make you get up and they were always there trying to help me sit up and help me get up out of the bed,” attendee Madelon Daniels recalled. “I would just turn over and get out of bed. They asked me how I was so strong, and I told them yoga. I’m amazed at my age what my body can still do.”

They welcome anyone who wants to check out the class and see if they like it. While yoga isn’t for everyone, it’s a great activity to at least try. 

“There’s so many advantages, flexibly, strength,” Dottie Jungck told the Telegram. “I’m a social exerciser, so the camaraderie means a lot to me. There’s meditation but there’s not a whole lot and it’s not specific.” 

The yoga class meets Wednesdays and Fridays at 8 a.m. at the Senior Friendship Center. For more information about the class or to learn about other activities, you can call the center at 307-532-2796.

“We are thankful for our senior center,” Jungck said. “The CEOs and other people who run this senior center are welcoming and they always have all kinds of activities going on. The [activities] are free of charge to seniors.”

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