Eugene Weekly : Loving Your Body : 2.11.2010


Loving Your Body 2010

Not Your Average Yogi Gentle on the joints, good for the soul

Empowering Girls and Women, Artfully Friends With Heart benefits artists, Ophelia’s Place

Different Paths to Mental Health Alternatives to medication for mentally ill patients

Love Inspired Body Care Recipes Celebrate Valentine’s Day with handmade body care products!

Smile! A review of Bluebird: Women and the New Psychology of Happiness


Not Your Average Yogi
Gentle on the joints, good for the soul
by Rachel Coussens

When someone says the word “yoga,” what comes to mind? Perhaps the image of a room packed with young fit women crunched in pretzels jogs the brain. 

Think again. 


“There’s a preconceived conception about yoga that you have to be really flexible to do it, and I have people way more flexible than me coming into my class,” says YMCA yoga instructor Randi Dalotto. 

“We believe strongly here that yoga is for everyone and anyone can do yoga,” says Dave Curtis, Tamarack Wellness Center yoga and fitness program Director “We had a yoga student who was 103, and she was still able to find benefits in yoga. She very much said yoga kept her alive.” 

Tamarack’s classes demonstrate its flexibility of offerings. The classes include aqua yoga, prenatal yoga, restorative yoga — and chair yoga. Yes, chair yoga. Curtis says the class is made up of mostly seniors and that two people in wheelchairs also practice weekly. “It’s just the gentle movements and breathing in the chair, and it can be really beneficial for people who aren’t able to stand or move around, and they can be very supported within the chair,” Curtis says. 

A gentle class encourages a calm state of mind in its participants, say those who lead the classes. “It allows the body and the mind the understanding that you will be very gentle,” Curtis says. “Especially for someone who is injured, that knowledge that there is a gentle place to come to gain healing is very profound.”

Tamarack offers a gentle yoga women’s class on Tuesday and Thursday mornings. “There are women who are in there who are breast cancer survivors, and this got them through it,” Curtis says. “It’s just a place for women to come together.”

Yoga has healing qualities for different types of injuries, its practitioners say. “We see physical injuries and people that are just emotionally drained or stressed out,” Curtis says. “Yoga practice can help with all of these things.”

Taking care of injuries and not over-pushing can yield healing results. “I have had this woman that in the beginning, when she started taking my class, she checked in with me and she had lower back problems — she had a herniated disc,” Dalotto says. “She couldn’t do any spinal twists, but now four months later she is able to do it.”

“The thing that got me into yoga, in a more serious way, was when I broke my hip three years ago. By the time they let me walk again, I had little rotation,” says Tamarack Wellness Center yoga instructor Grace Bullock. Yoga helped her heal and changed her yoga practice into teaching. “I’m more aware of my limitations, and I don’t push beyond what my body can do. I teach that way as well,” she says. Bullock says that she now has since regained rotation in her hips and no longer needs to modify poses for her injury.

The instructors say that when an injured person signs up for a class, it’s important to talk to a doctor first to ensure that yoga would be a good fit for the injury. Ask the yoga center for a recommendation for which class and instructor would best fit your needs. Also, have a conversation with the instructor on the first day of class to make him or her aware of your needs so that you can get pose modifications that are specific to your injury. 

Those in the classes need to be aware of how the injury feels and be ready to modify poses or stop if there is any pain. “If the teacher tries to give you a manual adjustment, where they are physically moving something, and you experience any kind of pain at all, you should tell them immediately and stop them,” Bullock says. 

But simply being in the class can help. “Just being able to honor your own body, honor what is going on for you and not being so concerned about what other people are doing in the class,” says Dalotto. “That is a process within yourself.”

For more information on yoga classes, visit or