Henry Schliff and TL Grace West teach gentle yoga. Photo courtesy of TL Grace West

By TL Grace West

Is yoga for me?

The answer to this question is yes, if:

  • You are 55 years old or older with your doctor’s blessing.
  • You have joint issues or arthritis.
  • You would like to improve your flexibility, balance and strength.
  • You are recovering from an injury or surgery and your doctor gives an OK.
  • You are a beginning yoga student.
  • You would like a pick-me-up in the late afternoon.

So, although geared for seniors, all are welcome.

What is unique about this class is that it is taught by two seniors, Henry Schliff and me, with whom you get the advantage of both a male and female teacher with the ability to easily show pose variations and provide props when needed.

Chairs are available and encouraged for use anytime, especially with balance poses and getting up and down on the floor.

The first 30 minutes involve standing (or sitting in a chair) warm-ups to enhance circulation and flexibility, deepen your breath, and improve your balance.

The final hour is all floor poses on your back, side and stomach.

We fluidly go in and out of poses so as not to stress the joints before holding any position. Specific adaptions are taught to enhance posture and prevent rounding of the upper back and osteoporosis (common issues for seniors).

Class ends with a 10-minute guided, deep relaxation to integrate your practice.

All during class lots of permission is given to take breaks, just watch, breathe deeply and rest.

I first started yoga classes when I was in college and raising a small child.

The centering feelings I experienced in these classes helped me through some tough years.

My yoga training in Asheville enabled me to teach yoga in a private psychiatric hospital 30 years ago. I also explored tai chi and qi gong classes, receiving training in Chapel Hill and Mexico that led me to teach tai chi when I first came to Ocracoke in the 1980s.

Henry Schliff’s yoga practice began long ago and has evolved with training and experience.

His yoga certification 20 years ago from Kripaula Center in Mass., his training in adaptive yoga with Duke Integrative Medicine and his study with Gary Kraftsaw, founder of Viniyoga, have all informed his careful class sequences geared for the needs of seniors.

Henry and I have been co-teachers for 20 years, 10 of those on Ocracoke.

After taking a COVID-19 break, we are delighted to begin teaching again.

We aim to provide an enjoyable class where seniors can move and bring more peace of mind and ease in their body.

One student told us she does one of our warm-ups called “body wash” in the shower every day and it makes a big difference.

As we age, regular movement becomes more and more important as preventive medicine, and we teach what is working for us.

Class meets Mondays from 4 to 5:30 p.m. in the Island Yoga Studio, 37 Back Road. 

Feel free to contact either of us with any questions at 919-418-5472.

Island Yoga Studio is accessible (ramp) and uses a UV light after each class to insure cleanliness and safety.

Check out how to sign up for classes and descriptions of the variety of class offerings on their website: www.ocracokeislandyoga.com.

Ocracoke is also fortunate to have Amy Hilton teach yoga classes at Angie’s Gym on Sand Dollar Road. 

See her website yogawithamy.net for description and class times.

Namaste (Sanskrit word spoken at the end of class): the Light in Me greets and honors the Light in You.

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