Yoga classes keep seniors moving

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Yoga instructor Dave Emery leads a Senior Foundation yoga class. (Tina Lowden/Courtesy photo)

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Although Winters’ senior citizens age like a fine wine, their mobility isn’t quite what it used to be. Yoga instructor Dave Emery and the Winters Senior Foundation have collaborated and created a weekly yoga class that will keep these older adults moving and grooving.

This September marks the one-year anniversary of the first official Winters Senior Foundation yoga class. It’s genesis, however, comes from the Seva Space Yoga Studio — which closed due to the pandemic.

“The class has its roots in the Seva Space Studio that used to be on Main Street. There’s been yoga classes in town on and off for years, but I have to give Kim Stanford credit for being the initiator of senior yoga in Winters. She had senior classes at her studio three days a week and there were a core group of them that attended and were regular, practicing yogis,” explained Emery.

Emery received his yoga certification in Bali, and upon returning to Winters, Stanford asked if he was interested in leading some of the senior classes.

“I was thinking, ‘yeah, I’ll do it,’ and shadowed Kim for a few weeks, picked up her techniques and tried to create an adjusted class for the seniors. One that’d do the trick but keep them safe at the same time. That was in 2019, and by spring of the following year COVID was in full swing and we had to close,” Emery said.

Before the closure, Emery established a loyal following of older yogis. One of whom was WSF board member Tina Lowden, who invited Emery to continue teaching a smaller group of seniors at her house while the world was in lockdown. After a “heck yeah,” Emery began orchestrating yoga practices in Lowden’s backyard as often as outbreaks and safety conditions would allow.

“Fast forward to last year and there was some chit chat about bringing this yoga class to the seniors and Jerry Lowden said, ‘Hey, Dave. We want to bring your class to the seniors of the community. Would you be interested in teaching it? We’d be happy to pay you,’” said Emery. “I said, ‘You know what, Jerry, I’m happy to do this for free. This is my karma, my gift to the community.’ These seniors, many of these people gave to the Winters community their whole life in many ways, so this is my way to give back to them. Because Winters is all about pitching in, and I’m not going to be on the City Council or anything like that, but I can do this.”

A handshake later, WSF President Jerry Lowden began working to get the class started and find a location. Father Perlito Garrido de la Cruz offerer the St. Anthony’s Parish Hall patio free of charge. With an outdoor location secured, the older adults have continued showing up to classes and going “all in” on stretching out.

“You bet I’m a regular participant. I think we have about 80 people if they all show up, but we have an average of 25 to 30 people showing up every week,” said Lowden. “Jerry and I do it and it’s good to share that love of yoga. And we also want to thank Father Lito and his crew at St. Anthony’s for giving us this space. It’s a blessing.”

One doesn’t need to be a senior citizen to enjoy this yoga class because it’s open — and free — for anyone and everyone in the community. So, if one is looking to stretch out of their comfort zone with some yoga, simply show up at the St. Anthony Parish Hall at 9:30 a.m. on Wednesdays.

To stay up-to-date with the Winters Senior Foundation, check out their website at www.wintersseniorfoundation.org.

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