Yoga is for everyone

Log on to any social media platform, and you’re sure to see at least one post containing a reference to yoga. The activity has been on the rise for some time, and Harlan County is not immune to the impact.

Amanda Colton-Wolfe, lead instructor at Harlan Yoga, teaches the art to students ranging in age from 3 to 83.

According to Colton-Wolfe, yoga is a beneficial activity for all ages.

My favorite thing to tell people is my youngest yogi is 3 and my oldest is 83,” Colton-Wolfe said.

Colton-Wolfe said she frequently holds classes including athletes.

“I have football players, basketball players, cheerleaders and gymnasts all coming to class,” she said. “It’s an add on to what they’re already doing. They come and do more of a stretch out instead of a work out.”

Yoga helps with flexibility, which is beneficial in all sports.

Colton-Wolfe teaches a chair yoga class, made up of mostly of folks in the 60 to 80-year-old age group.

“I call them my queens,” she said. “The queens of my chair yoga class, who are mostly in their 70s and 80s, are very encouraging as well. We get very excited when we see somebody have a breakthrough moment, especially in balancing poses because balance is so important as we age.”

The students at Holy Trinity Preschool have also been introduced to yoga. According to their teacher Patsy Pate, the children are very fond of their yoga time.

“She (Colton-Wolfe) comes over about once a month, she brings the mats and everything,” Pate says. “She starts with the basics, and it’s amazing to watch the children.”

Pate said the children, who range in age from 3 to 5, really enjoy the activity.

“I don’t see that she’s downsizing (the activities) whatsoever,” Pate said. “There’s a lot of breathing exercises, control, I’d say the they could outdo any adult.”

Pate mentioned while Wolfe only teaches the class once a month, the children occasionally take it upon themselves to continue yoga activity.

“When we sit down in circles to do group activity, I have caught them doing the poses and breathing,” Pate said. “They do it every day they’re at the school.”

Pate pointed out Holy Trinity Preschool is in session three days a week.

“It’s obvious, those three days they do yoga,” Pate said.

Pate explained some of the benefits the children appear to have received from the hour-long class.

“It makes a big difference,” Pate said. “They’ve learned to calm themselves down. They have a lot more empathy for each other, you can see it. If one of our children gets hurt, there are about three children that are to them before teachers can get to them…they’re less angry. They’re just happy children.”

Pate said the staff enjoys the activity as well.

“We appreciate Amanda coming, and we recommend it to all ages,” Pate said. “I think it would be good for elementary and middle-school students too.”

Colton-Wolfe was trained at Asheville Yoga Center. She emphasizes yoga is non-competitive.

“We are very diverse,” she says. “We have all shapes, sizes and abilities. We have people who are quite capable and could do a handstand, to somebody who absolutely has to do yoga while seated in a chair.”

Many do not realize an individual does not have to be in great shape to start yoga.

“We have people that can barely move when they start yoga,” Colton-Wolfe said. “A lot of our students have come in because of an injury. That’s how I started yoga, I came to yoga with a back injury. We have a lot of people with arthritis, they have had back issues and surgeries.”

Many people began yoga after finishing physical therapy following an injury.

“The journey in yoga is what’s most rewarding,” Colton-Wolfe said. “You never have to be completely flexible, you never have to hold a pose for very long. There’s never anything that make you feel like you have to do something.”

Colton-Wolfe explained her classes use yoga blocks, yoga blankets and other items to help during their sessions.

For more information call 606-273-1781. A schedule of classes at Harlan Yoga can be found on their Facebook page.