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Yoga classes popular in Fort Simpson
Co-ed and women-only sessions draw all abilities and ages

Roxanna Thompson
Northern News Services
Published Thursday, February 24, 2011

LIIDLII KUE/FORT SIMPSON - A personal love of yoga has stretched into a popular series of classes in Fort Simpson.

NNSL photo/graphic

Cheryl Stelte, who is leading yoga classes in Fort Simpson, demonstrates a pose. She moved to the community in October and has filled a niche with her classes, which an average of 12 people attend. - photo courtesy of Cheryl Stelte

Cheryl Stelte has been practising yoga for approximately 16 years but never as an instructor. When she moved to the community last October, Stelte discovered there was an interest in yoga.

She saw an opportunity to share an activity she enjoys and began offering a women-only class. It was a casual beginning and she said she thought if a few people came it would be fun and would give her an excuse to do yoga more often. Even without advertising, 13 people attended the first class.

Since then the number of people, in the village,

interested in yoga has grown. Stelte introduced her new schedule on Feb. 17. Women's only classes will be held from 6:30 to 7:30 p.m. followed by a half-hour meditation session and then a co-ed yoga class from 8:10 to 9:10 p.m. Five men came for the first co-ed class.

"I was very surprised and very happy," she said.

Although she's new to teaching Stelte said she's enjoying sharing yoga with others.

"It's very rewarding for me," she said. "Everyone gets right into it."

Anyone can do yoga but it is especially good for people who are stiff, have pain or just want to feel better, said Stelte. An average of 12 people attend each class and they come from a range of ages and abilities.

"That's the beauty of yoga. You don't have to be really flexible for it to be effective," she said.

Over time people find yoga helps them improve flexibility, but yoga is also about deep breathing which brings its own health benefits, Stelte said. In her classes, Stelte teaches hatha yoga.

The Thursday night classes begin with a quiet time where participants focus on breathing and being present in their bodies. Stelte then leads the class through a series of poses that change every week. The classes end with another period of quiet sitting.

Stelte recently received a loan of eco-friendly yoga mats and props including blocks, straps and bolsters from the Mackenzie Recreation Association for the yoga classes. The props help people who are less flexible or have injuries, Stelte said.

Between the two yoga classes, Stelte offers a mindfulness meditation session that approximately six people have been attending. All of the classes are held in a boardroom beside Aurora College.

Deborah Stipdonk is one person who has been converted to yoga because of the classes.

Stipdonk tried yoga before by watching television programs but with little success. The classes in town have been far different.

"It's such a positive experience," Stipdonk said.

"Everyone is working at their own pace and everyone is making progress and there's such a supportive atmosphere about it."

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