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The gift of yoga
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The gift of yoga

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After a recent visit to the hospital emergency room, Wendy Heller, a 200-hour certified toga teacher, witnessed firsthand the challenges hospital employees were facing. Wanting to help with the challenges, Heller approached the Essig Center and Franklin County Parks and Recreation with a proposal to combine efforts to support the Carilion frontline workers.

The result was a free six-week restorative yoga series taught by Heller. Heller said, “Thanks to the generous support of the Essig Center and Franklin County Parks and Recreation, a large classroom at the Essig Center was offered to hold the restorative classes which allowed the workers to learn and develop a self-care program of practical exercises they could use throughout the day to reduce stress and tension while promoting better health and sleep.”

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Heller said her own life has been positively changed throughout her 22-year practice of easy Hatha style yoga and that anyone of any age can do yoga. “The slow focused breathing combined with simple gentle poses can dramatically reduce stress levels and bring about positive results like lowered blood pressure, better lung function and help promote a good night’s sleep,” she said.

Heller regularly teaches students that range in age from 55-80 at the Essig Center. Faye Evans just finished an eight-week series of chair yoga. She enrolled in the course to help with recovery of a broken hip. “I was just so stiff. I thought yoga would help me there and it has,” she said. Evans plans to move beyond chair yoga in her next series of classes.

Marcia Cramblitt, Office of Aging and recreation manager at the Franklin County Parks and Recreation, said yoga classes are for all ages and abilities and are offered in the day and evening. Cramblitt encourages self-care. “We need time for ourselves. We are so busy taking care of everyone else,” she said.

New three-week courses start on Dec. 2. The registration deadline is Nov. 30. For more information and to register, call 540-483-9293 or go to

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