PILOT MOUNTAIN — Instructor Diane Blakemore introduced a kinder, gentler form of yoga to young participants in the Charles H. Stone Memorial Library Summer Reading Program Tuesday.
“Yoga is a way of moving your body in different shapes and postures,” began Blakemore. She told the children that most of the postures in yoga are named for things seen in nature in India, where the art originated. Slowly, Blakemore guided the group on a trip to an imaginary zoo where many of the animals, such as elephants, eagles, turtles, snakes and frogs could be seen.
She told them they could move their bodies but they must keep their feet in the same place.
The journey began for Blakemore when she was in college. She had sought traditional help from physicians for her incapacitating migraines and just hadn’t found any solutions. Blakemore decided to give yoga a try.
“It changed by life,” said Blakemore. “I felt better, and as my body got stronger I was not sick as often. My mood was better.”
Blakemore, who is also a massage therapist, has been teaching yoga for nine years and studied for a year prior to that to be a certified instructor in yoga.
“I figured if I was a teacher I probably would go to class more,” joked Blakemore.”I wanted to share this with others to help people find relief.”
The form of yoga she teaches in the Sanskrit language means “joy yoga” or doing yoga postures joyfully. She appears to take this gentle concept to heart. She teaches classes at the Armfield Center in Pilot Mountain for a variety of age groups and mixed levels of skill.
“Yoga is very adaptable to children,” said Blakemore. She said she has taught yoga to Surry County 4-H groups and led a variety of day camps at the Armfield Center. She appeared proud of the mixed levels of age and skill in her classes. She is also very firm on how yoga can be modified to meet anyone’s level of flexibility.
“I want everyone to benefit from yoga and not get hurt,” said Blakemore. “I teach a much gentler way.” She has used the knowledge of the human body to modify the postures to accommodate people who, for instance, have a hip or knee replacement.
“Sometimes it is difficult for those recovering from injuries because their doctor advises them to do nothing for months,” explained Blakemore.”Sometimes If you can keep moving the rest of the body, recovery is easier.”
She has also seen the toll on young people from our society that has become less physically active.
“I have seen teenagers who cannot sit up because of slouching so much,” recounted Blakemore. “The younger you can begin practicing these postures the better. One of the big benefits of this class is body awareness.” She said she has seen improvement in as little as two months from some participants. She added that one participant used the breathing exercises to calm his claustrophobia long enough to get an MRI.
“A lot of this improvement is coming mainly from awareness,” added Blakemore. “It’s so visual. You can see it (improvement) so clearly.”
The big changes for Blakemore have been achieved with small steps and she wants her students to teach the body where it belongs, so to speak. She also wants to give students alternatives that will still benefit their health.
“I tell my students that if you want to do this posture then do this. If you don’t, it’s OK. It’s perfectly alright.”
Charles H. Stone Memorial Library Branch Librarian Anna Nichols said the annual summer program is winding down for the season at the facility. She said the community’s response has been good.
“I appreciate the support of the community including the United Fund of Surry County and the Pilot Mountain Civic Club with this program,” said Nichols.”We are so grateful to them. They are so supportive of our efforts. We simply could not do this without them.”
Reach David Broyles at email@example.com or 719-1952.