ACTIVE LIFE: Yoga helps foster positive outlook

NANAIMO – Parks and rec offers classes for people with a developmental disability.

Lisa Gravelle instructs Jason Marks at Nanaimo Supportive Lifestyles

Lisa Gravelle instructs Jason Marks at Nanaimo Supportive Lifestyles

Yoga isn’t just a way to get fit, according to instructor Lisa Gravelle, it’s a state of mind which anyone can get into.

The City of Nanaimo’s Parks, Recreation and Environment department will be launching yoga classes for the developmentally disabled beginning Monday (Sept. 15) at Beban Social Centre and Gravelle, a certified instructor, will be leading the way. She said the program is similar to one offered at Nanaimo Supportive Lifestyles Ltd., where Gravelle is also an instructor.

Courses will be offered to teenagers (13 to 17 years) and adults (over 17 years) with special needs and their caregivers. Gravelle said the pace of classes will be tailored to fit the needs of participants and could include discussion, breathing, postures and meditation.

“The benefits for anyone taking a yoga class or doing yoga really has a huge scope,” said Gravelle. “It really comes down to really connecting your mind and your body together. ‘How am I in this moment?’ That’s really what the scope of yoga is.”

Some people believe yoga is strictly a fitness activity, something that Gravelle said is incorrect.

Yoga is something experienced, she said. It’s not necessarily a pose someone is in, but rather how they are in the pose.

She said she has seen changes in some of her students at Nanaimo Supportive Lifestyles, including Jason Marks. He said yoga helped calm him when he couldn’t get coffee while playing miniature golf, which initially annoyed him.

“I was looking forward to coffee and then I went up and all they were serving was espresso. I was frustrated because there wasn’t any coffee made … I looked at the refrigerator to make a healthy choice … and also doing breathing,” said Marks, adding the exercise made him feel better.

Gravelle said yoga is for everybody and it doesn’t matter what one’s physical capabilities are.

“You don’t have to be physical in yoga. You can basically be laying down and not moving at all and you’re still performing yoga,” she said. “Yoga is a mindfulness, yoga is a way of doing something and a way of being that’s actually more important than anything.”

The adult courses run from 2-3 p.m. and the teenage courses take place between 3:30-4:30 p.m. Prices range from $40 to $48.

For more information on the course and other programs with parks and rec, please call 250-756-5200.