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Yoga Brings Relaxation And Exercise For IB Seniors

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Posted: Friday, November 8, 2019 3:44 pm

There are many reasons why seniors attend the yoga class specifically designated for them at the Imperial Beach library every Wednesday. For some it’s because it helps with pain, for others it’s the feeling of relaxation. At a recent Senior Yoga class, about 20 students were in the moment, taking deep breaths and relaxing while enjoying the benefits of the stretches.

The class has been led by Jackie Stenzel for the past half dozen years when the old library still had the Marina Room where the class was held. Stenzel discovered yoga about 14 years ago and loved it. She decided to become an instructor and completed the 200 hour training program in Power Viny’sa and she has been teaching Hatha yoga since. The class in Imperial Beach was the first one she ever taught after the training.

“The community is warm and welcoming,” said Stenzel. That feeling was there for Stenzel at the very beginning and has continued through the years. She also pointed out that everyone in the class is supportive of each other and welcomes new students, making them feel at home in the class.

“I like yoga practice; it is accessible to anyone regardless of religious background, physical limitations…it’s all about taking care of the mind and body,” Stenzel said.

Stenzel is currently working on a Master’s degree in Occupational Therapy at the University of St. Augustine in San Marcos and credits her students in inspiring her to go back to school. “I’m able to help people in more ways rather than just with yoga practice, regardless of their medical condition, and I’ve lived life to the fullest,” she said.

Stenzel’s senior yoga class is made up of people ranging in age from 50 to 70. “Everybody enjoys a sense of community in the classroom. It’s relaxed, we crack jokes and someone always falls asleep in the middle of class. Everybody is very comfortable with each other,” she explained.

Stenzel teaches gentle yoga with a focus in relaxation and breathing. “A big part of what we do… I try to cater to the class depending on who shows up. Whoever shows up creates the environment,” said Stenzel.

Senior Yoga students don’t have to bring anything with them since everything is provided -mats and props likes belts and blocks. “I encourage students to listen to their bodies. That’s my number one emphasis. Some have neuropathy, have had a knee or hip replacement… the class is adaptive to whoever shows up. We honor our own body and what feels right for you,” explained Stenzel.

During a recent class, the students formed a circle while doing the tree pose. Stenzel explained that that’s done for social bonding and it’s a way to feel more comfortable sharing space with each other.

Rhonda Hammond has been taking senior yoga at the library for about three years. “She’s great. Very calming,” she said of Stenzel.

Yoga has given her many health benefits. “Prior to coming to yoga I had backaches, now it’s very seldom. [Yoga] has really helped. Another way yoga has helped me is when I breath into the area we’re stretching,” explained Hammond.

When she gets leg cramps at home she uses the skills she has learned in the class, breathing into that area that hurts and it helps. Hammond looks forward to the class every week and finds everyone to be friendly. “When I miss yoga I can tell the difference [in my body],” she said.

Joe Swagler had heard about yoga his whole life but it wasn’t until 10 years ago that he started taking classes. “I make time. This class is a high priority for me, it gives me flexibility and quiets me down a lot. It’s a chance to get in touch with myself,” he said.

Swagler likes the fact that the atmosphere is relaxed. “Nobody is forcing you to do a pose you can’t do. You meet your own standard and do what you can do,” he said.

When the class was not held for a few weeks recently due to Stenzel’s schedule he missed it terribly.

Stenzel has a sunny personality and it is reflected during her class and her students feel it. “Jackie is a sweetheart. She is an excellent teacher. She laughs with us, she keeps us smiling. I feel really good and relaxed when I leave,” said student Rose Reynolds.

Reynolds said she used to see a chiropractor but since she started yoga her joins have been loosened and she feels good. She pointed out that she could do the same exercises at home but in class it’s different. “You do it with other people, slowly and with purpose. I look forward to it and hate to miss a class,” she said.

Senior Yoga is free and is held every Wednesday at 10 a.m. at the Imperial Beach branch of the San Diego County Library, 810 Imperial Beach Boulevard. For more information call the Senior Center at 619-424-7077.

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