A dozen or so people sit quietly in a large circle of chairs, facing inward. Chimes sound softly in the background. Karla Zapata smiles a welcome to each person, waits a moment, and then speaks. “Close your eyes … ,” she says. “Inhale … Exhale …”
It is 12:15, and the Yoga Suave class — a weekly feature of the Wednesday Spanish Program — has just begun. For the next 45 minutes, the instructor leads the group through a series of exercises designed to refresh the mind as well as strengthen the body. “I take the Hatha Yoga approach,” says Karla. “It pays attention to the mind, the body, and the breath. Everything connects through the breathing.”
Sometimes seated, sometimes standing (but always with the chair nearby, for support), participants move through a series of gentle stretches for each part of the body, while also paying attention to their thoughts and feelings, and — again and again — grounding themselves in the steady rhythm of their breath. “Inhale … Exhale …”
Karla is one of several alternating volunteer instructors. A professional accountant, she found work in her field when she came to Canada from Chile last fall. But she is also a certified yoga instructor, and wanted to use those skills as well. “I saw an ad on Facebook,” she says. “The Centre was looking for a yoga instructor for its Spanish Program. It was perfect! I began in December.” She has been a Yoga Suave instructor ever since.
At 1 p.m., the class ends. People take a moment, reconnect with the busy world around them, and leave the room, chatting with each other as they go. “I’ve been coming for a long time now,” says one lady. “I’m a regular. When I leave class, my body is energized, and my mind is peaceful.”
* Yoga Suave: every Wednesday, 12:15 p.m. – 1 p.m. Drop-in class, no yoga experience needed.