It’s all about breathing and movement in new Slow Flow Yoga class at Southeastern Livingston Center | Livingston/Tangipahoa

Anke Neustadt

For a solid hour participants in the Slow Flow Yoga class, offered at the Southeastern Livingston Center in a cool, darkened room with soft instrumental music playing low, put their bodies through a progression of positions and poses that ran the gamut from lying on the floor to standing on one leg with arms raised high toward the ceiling.

The Slow Flow Yoga class was the first of a procession of programs that will be offered at the center during September. The classes offer potential participants numerous options for expanding their knowledge and skills in various disciplines.

Krystal Hardison, director of the Southeastern Livingston Center, expressed a special interest in the yoga class because yoga was the first program offered under the center’s Life Long Learning Programs, a string of sessions that have drawn many participants to classes on a wide range of subjects from crafts learning sessions to lectures about current affairs and information of general interest.

Yoga classes have been offered every month since January of 2020 and Sept. 6 session was the first of three that will be offered this month. The second was Sept. 13 and the third will be held on Tuesday, Sept. 27.

Members of the yoga class were led through their exercises, which came without a break, by Casey Harris who guided her devotees through their many positions with a smooth, even, well-modulated voice. Harris was the only person in the room who spoke … the women following her directions remained silent throughout the long hour.

Slow Flow Yoga, according to Harris, links breath and movement in a easy-flowing manner. The exercise is designed to improve strength, flexibility, balance and focus through the practice of yoga, Harris said. She explained that yoga, which has its origins in India, is an ages-old method of training the body and the mind in ways that lead to better health and physical ability.

She said yoga in India has some spiritual meaning but that in the United States it is primarily taught to improve one’s physical abilities.

Harris has been studying and practicing yoga for three years and her ability to keep the class flowing from one exercise to the other without any interruption, or without the use of cues or notes, is a talent that she has learned through her devotion to learning about the discipline of yoga.

She opened the session by instructing the participants to close their eyes while assuming a comfortable sitting position on their mats. She then told them to leave whatever happened during the day behind and to focus on their bodies, taking time to think about their bodies from the tips of their toes to the top of their heads.

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Controlling one’s breathing is an essential part of yoga exercises and throughout the session Harris would gently remind her subjects on how to control their breathing. Early in the exercise the participants were told to fold their hands together pressed against their hearts as they practiced breathing techniques and gently voiced an, “oom.” As the class progressed the different poses became more complex and physically demanding. From the sitting position the class moved to a kneeling or “table top” pose and then rose to a standing position.

During the session, Harris managed to involve almost all parts of the body. At one point she instructed, “squeeze your face like you are eating something sour.”

She ended the class by asking her students to reflect on their intentions for attending the session. She asked, “did anything shift in your mind or in your physical body?” In the silence, each member of the class had to answer that question for themselves.

One member of class, Karen Cass, said she “came here to learn how to improve myself physically and to learn how to better relax.”

“I suffer from lupus and my whole body hurts for much of the time, said Margaret Westmoreland. “I can’t do strenuous, whole body exercising but I can do yoga and it helps me to relax and stay fit.”

Other programs that will be offered at the Southeastern Livingston Center this month include:

  • Google Cyber Safety For Adults will be offered on Wednesday, Sept. 14, at 5 p.m. and on Monday, Sept. 19, at 3 p.m.
  • Silk Corsage and Boutonniere will be offered on Wednesday, Sept. 14 at 6 p.m.
  • On Sept. 15 at 5:30 p.m. a workshop, Macramé Plant Hanger, will teach participants the art of making one’s own plant hanger.
  • Pumpkin Painting will be taught at a session from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. on Sept. 15. Class members will learn to paint a picture of pumpkins on canvas.
  • Southeast Louisiana Legal Services will offer a free legal aid class for low income residents from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. Tuesday, Sept. 20.
  • One can learn all about the health benefits of kitchen staples and how to prepare ingredients at a class titled Kitchen Cupboard Medicine Chet on Sept. 21 from 6 p.m.-7:30 p.m.
  • Bridal Consultation 101 will be presented on Sept. 22 and Oct. 13 in a class from 6:30 p.m. to 8 p.m.
  • Those interested in knitting are invited to join the Hand Knit A Chunky Pillow class set for Sept. 26 from 5:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m.
  • On Thursday, Sept. 29, the center will repeat an earlier lecture on Exploring Purple Martins. The class, set for 6:30 p.m., will offer an introduction to one of Americans’ most well loved songbirds, the Purple Martin. Participants will learn how to identify, attract manage and help protect Purple Martins.
  • A second class on Macramé Workshop Wall Hanging will be presented on Sept. 29 at 5:30 p.m.

Those interested in attending one or more of the classes can obtain additional information by contacting the Center by email at [email protected].

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