Herald Neighbors

Breathing and flexibility through yoga


Sitting with her legs crossed in the center of the room, April Diane, a yoga instructor from Hempstead took a deep breath and instructed the yoga students primarily comprised of women to follow with another deep breath during the Freeport Memorial Library’s weekly yoga class on Dec. 18.

It was a full class for a mid-Tuesday afternoon. The women, most 50 and older, carefully listened to Diane’s instruction as she ran a full-body workout that wouldn’t put any restraints or impacts on their joints. The classes offered at the library are free and open to the public with no prior yoga experience needed.

A sequence or a full yoga cycle of different poses runs about an hour with a breathing warm-up that eventually leads to a series of downward dogs and half chuttarunga poses.

“I follow April’s classes,” said Marilyn Penaeene from Lido Beach who’s been attending classes in Freeport since September. “I love her classes. Yoga keeps my mind, body, spirit and energy going. It works out my muscles and when I go home I feel like I got a good workout.”

Diane has been a yoga instructor for the last eight years and six at the library. Teaching yoga has been a way to share with others how to not only breathe through meditative workouts but also a way to help people find balance and restoration both physically and mentally.

Yoga has been known as a workout that provides a full-body workout while helping the practitioner to find a personal center and regain peace. According to Diane, in order to see long lasting results with yoga, consistency is key as it takes time to see the benefits.

“Yoga helped me deal with my anxiety and depression,” Diane said after the class.

As the students got into mountain pose, which is a stance where the arms are overhead with their feet hip-distance apart through the legs and torso, Diane encouraged them to stretch their arms towards the ceiling. After the stretch, the students clasped their palms together and placed them at their center or near their heart.

The series of stretches and poses continued for 45 minutes after a 15-minute warm up and eventually led to 360 degrees bent downturns with their hands on their ankles.

Attending the class since July, Freeporter, Ida Hollingsworth, 69, shared she couldn’t imagine not attending the class and has become a yoga aficionado since her first day in Diane’s class.

“I love it,” Hollingsworth gushed. “I just love to stretch and I wish I could do it by myself at home.”

After the class, Hollingsworth and Penaeene were putting on their shoes, laughing about their experience. “I worked out muscles I didn’t even know existed,” Penaeene said with a laugh.

“Right from your head to your toes,” Hollingsworth added as both women laughed and talked about the new 2019 class schedule.

In January and February 2019, Diane will teach classes every Tuesday with some Friday and Saturday classes. “I hope [my students] can take away [from my classes] the ability to create a space for relaxation in their lives,” Diane said. “Yoga can really help your body to naturally do what it does.”