Three Las Vegas yoga instructors are among a growing number nationally who have created programs for those most in need of intense self-connection.
Abby M. Geyer, a volunteer yoga teacher at Solutions Recovery, offers classes informally called “sober yoga” for clients who are in substance abuse recovery.
Photo by Anthony MairAnne Yendrek-Schadler has developed a program to help cancer patients using yoga techniques.
“Yoga is a great outlet for my students to release the anxiety bottled up inside them,” says Geyer, who is also the advertising manager for journals published by the International Association of Yoga Therapists. “The breathing exercises balance the brain and body, helping shift the mind’s focus, which is exactly where the disease is battled.”
Yoga quiets the mind as students feel their breaths and move through the postures, Geyer says. This helps them to think more clearly, which is life changing for recovering clients. One of Geyer’s yogic influences, clinical psychologist Richard Miller, Ph.D., has found heightened activity in the prefrontal cortex of patients involved in yoga therapy. Yoga anchors a person’s core, creating complete, positive awareness of the body and the decision-making process.
This notion also holds true with Anne Yendrek-Schadler’s classes. When the Nevada Cancer Institute was founded, about eight years ago, she proposed an idea that eventually jump-started a yoga program for cancer patients. First set in a small meditation room, the class gained so much success it has moved twice more to accommodate its growth.
“Many walk into the yoga room for the first time feeling confused, angry, frightened, stressed, lonely and exhausted,” says Yendrek-Schadler, who has her own private yoga practice, with classes offered throughout the Las Vegas Valley. “But they leave relaxed and calm. They just feel better. You can see it in their eyes and how they carry themselves.”
Yoga provides clients a chance to reconnect and feel a self-intimacy they haven’t achieved in a while, or possibly ever. Yendrek-Schadler says that Yoga helps her cancer-patient students by breaking their fears and organically allowing them to acknowledge what’s happening within their body, opening the way for them to accept and embrace their situation.
With acceptance and acknowledgement comes clarity, Yendrek-Schadler says. With clarity, receptivity. Ultimately they become more receptive to their doctors, treatment, family and friends. All of this so important to their health, mind and total well-being.
Taking this to heart, yoga seems like the best physical and mental exercise for anyone looking to maintain a healthy connection with oneself. And let’s face it, we all need some “me” time (see sidebar). But in these hard economic times, being a regular yoga student takes a decent cash flow.
Enter Cheryl Slader, owner and instructor at Blue Sky Yoga in the Arts Factory. Slader offers the only open-door, donation-based classes in Las Vegas for anyone who otherwise couldn’t afford weekly classes elsewhere. Blue Sky hosts a variety of yoga, including Mommy & Me classes, quick Lunchtime Bliss classes, and kids classes. Slader recalls one child in particular whose mean-streak attitude took a turn for the better after a yoga class.
“I had the kids put a toy on their tummy for our breathing exercise,” Slader says. “I told them to watch it go up and down with their breathing. After class, one of the kids got in an argument with his mother at home but abruptly stopped himself, laid down on his bed, put a pillow on his stomach and followed the breathing exercise. He felt so much better and thanked me for it.”
Yoga: Do It for Yourself!
Looking for some “me” time? Head over to donation-based Blue Sky Yoga (107 E. Charleston Blvd., 592-1396) for an eclectic variety of yoga classes, some of which include:
Lunchtime Bliss: This is just a quickie, but it’s still so good! Take a break from the office to re-energize your mind, body and soul. Includes neck, shoulder and forehead massage. 12:15–1 p.m. Mon., Wed. and Fri.
Gentle/Candlelight: An extra slow and savory yoga class for all levels. Students will explore the mind-connection with slow movement, deep stretches, restorative poses, meditation, aromatherapy and deep relaxation. Class taught by candlelight to reduce the distraction of visual stimulation and deepen the inner experience. Mon.-Wed.; check for times at blueskyyogalv.com.
Mommy and Me/Prenatal Yoga: A loving, sacred practice to be shared with the entire family. A beautiful way to bond with each other as a family, as well as like-minded members of the community. All ages welcome. 10–11 a.m. Wed.