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The Collegian

The Student News Site of Tarrant County College

The Collegian

The Student News Site of Tarrant County College

The Collegian

NW instructor guides seniors into yoga

A class of seniors warm up during a yoga class on NW Campus. Instructor Kathy Saburn teaches the course and coordinates the campus’ seniors program. 
David Reid/The Collegian
A class of seniors warm up during a yoga class on NW Campus. Instructor Kathy Saburn teaches the course and coordinates the campus’ seniors program. David Reid/The Collegian

By Shirlett Warren/nw news editor

Yoga isn’t just for everybody. It’s for every body, said yoga instructor and coordinator of the NW Campus seniors program.

Kathy Saburn transformed the bustling Student Center conference room into a haven of tranquility Jan. 24 as she kicked off the spring Yoga for Seniors class.

A class of seniors warm up during a yoga class on NW Campus. Instructor Kathy Saburn teaches the course and coordinates the campus’ seniors program.
David Reid/The Collegian

Seniors arrived to a warm, dimly lit open space with the sound of the ocean and soothing instrumental music in the background. A candle centered on a Persian rug in the middle of the room flickered as the class placed their exercise mats on the floor.

“Inhale,” Saburn said. “And exhale. Don’t exhale as if you are blowing out a candle. Exhale as if you were cleaning your glasses. You want steam on your glasses.”

Learning to breathe correctly is crucial to a person’s health and wellness, she said.

“Breathing is the most important thing we do every day, but way too many of us take short, shallow breaths, which deprive our systems from oxygen, hold on to carbon dioxide due to lack of deep diaphragmatic breathing and lack energy and vitality,” she said.

The class had few newcomers, and several had taken yoga with Saburn for years. Dan Hays started taking the class 15 years ago when he was 63.

“I could barely get out of a recliner, and I couldn’t bend over to pick up things,” Hays said.

Today, he is limber and travels all over the world four to five times a year since he attended a yoga retreat in Athens, Greece, in 2006.

“Before the trip to Greece, I’d never been anywhere in the whole world,” he said. “It was the deep breathing part [of yoga] that helped me the most. I wouldn’t be able to do much of anything if I wasn’t doing yoga.”

Martha A. Whiteley-Moore, a certified yoga instructor, said yoga keeps her body and her mind going.

During the class, she sat with her knees crossed and bent her body backward until her back was completely parallel to the floor. Then, she sat up without her hands touching the floor and began to walk forward on her knees.

“I’m 76 years old, and I’ve been doing yoga for years,” Whiteley-Moore said. “Aging is a natural process, but we do not have to get old.”

A gentleman sitting on a mat behind Whiteley-Moore joked that he was 179 years old and then proceeded to demonstrate a headstand.

“Yoga is not about looking perfect. It’s about being healthy,” Saburn said.

Throughout the class, Saburn spoke about the numerous physical and psychological health benefits of yoga.

“Certain positions massage your inner organs,” she said as class members raised their left arms over their heads and stretched.

Elsa Vargas, senior advisory council president, has been Saburn’s student for five years.

“She has knee problems, and yoga has helped her to avoid surgery,” Saburn said. “And now, she is the senior education volunteer of the year.”

Halfway through the session, Saburn told the class to smile.

“Smiling releases stress from the major muscles in your body and from all the muscles in your face,” she said. “And smiling makes you look younger. Makes you look prettier. Why not do it?”

All of the students received a handout outlining dozens of health benefits that yoga offers. However, Saburn told the class not to expect instant results.

“An apple tree doesn’t produce apples overnight,” she said.

The cover page of the class handout compared yoga to a tree with eight branches and a deep-rooted, strong trunk in the form of the positions, breathing techniques, relaxation and meditation.

“It takes you out of your comfort level physically, mentally and spiritually,” Saburn said. “Teaching yoga is like a mother helping her children. Compassion, understanding and some level of firmness is necessary.”

The class was Helga Gerlinger’s first session with Saburn.

“I tried yoga before, but this class was very gentle yet challenging,” Gerlinger said. “This was a most wonderful experience, really.”

Yoga for Seniors is offered on NW 3:30-4:45 p.m. every Wednesday until April 4. The class is also available 2-3:20 p.m. Tuesday on NE, 11 a.m.-noon Tuesday-Thursday on South, and 1-1:50 p.m. Tuesday on TR.

For more information, call the senior education office on NW at 817-515-7199, on NE at 817-515-4233, on South at 817-515-4538, and on TR at 817-515-1071.

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