Yoga is for everyone.
Liz Smith, owner of Serendipity Yoga Studio in Homewood, said she occasionally hears from people who protest that they can’t practice yoga because of one health condition or another, whether it’s lack of flexibility, excess weight or a chronic disease. She’s eager to help them see past those barriers.
Editor’s note: This article is the ninth in a series of stories that originally were published in the Chronicle’s March 1 health and wellness supplement sponsored by Franciscan Health.
Yoga is for everyone.
Liz Smith, owner of Serendipity Yoga Studio in Homewood, said she occasionally hears from people who protest that they can’t practice yoga because of one health condition or another, whether it’s lack of flexibility, excess weight or a chronic disease.
Smith is known locally for her work with children. She regularly hosts yoga-for-kids sessions at local festivals and at the Homewood Farmers Market. She also has students who are older and some who have mobility challenges.
There are approaches to yoga for just about every situation, she said, from vigorous workouts to finding peace and serenity. Her approach is to meet every student where they are and help them progress toward their personal goals. Being nimble and shapely are not prerequisites.
“You wouldn’t not go to piano lessons because you can’t play the piano,” she said.
Plus, even people dealing with health difficulties often find their bodies are more capable of movement than they might think, she said. Physical limitations often are real, though, so Smith adapts yoga to their needs.
Smith said the community has a wealth of yoga opportunities. As examples, she lauded programs offered by Shir Tikvah Temple in Homewood and the Cancer Support Center to meet various needs.
“You don’t even have to get on the floor,” she said, noting the popularity of chair yoga for people with mobility issues. “Yoga is amazing for healthy aging.”
It was the science of yoga that really drew Smith into the practice. Although the science is still relatively new, she points to a growing body of evidence for the efficacy of yoga for a myriad of conditions and ailments, as well as general health and wellness.
For example, a key finding links yoga to managing stress, she said. Typically, stress is a normal physiological reaction to specific situations — the body’s way of responding to danger. Stress is designed to provide the body with a necessary response to immediate threats, like encountering a predator in the wild.
Modern life, however, tends to induce various levels of stress almost continuously, Smith said, and humans aren’t designed to be in that state for extended periods.
Yoga doesn’t make stress or anxiety go away, but Smith believes yoga does give people tools for managing the stress reactions and keeping stress from ruling and ruining lives.
“People don’t come back for the exercise,” she said. “They come back because of how they felt when they were done, whether it was peaceful or energized.”
Be Well 2020:
- Prairie State College is committed to healthcare programming (March 18, 2020)
- Sandy, a doggone good de-stressor at GSU (March 17, 2020)
- Nurse helped organize CSC to meet cancer patient needs (March 15, 2020)
- The right moves make all the difference (March 14, 2020)
- Bariatric surgery can reduce dieting struggles and obesity (March 13, 2020)
- Joint replacement eases pain (March 12, 2020)
- Heart scan can help detect early coronary risk programming (March 11, 2020)
- 5 benefits of having a primary care doctor (March 10, 2020)