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Man doing yoga at The Salvation Army Adult Day Center

Gentle yoga is a hit at Adult Day Center in Maplewood (video)

Added on Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Written by Julie Borgen, Twin Cities Media Relations Director for The Salvation Army Northern Division 

Yoga participant at Salvation Army Adult Day CenterWhen you think of yoga, do you picture people twisted like pretzels on the floor? 81-year-old Pearl Marshall (pictured, left) did, too–at first.

“I thought, oh I don’t want to do that,” she said. “But then, they told me it was gentle yoga, so I tried it and I love it.”

Marshall is a regular participant at The Maplewood Salvation Army’s Adult Day Center, which provides activities and care for adults 18 and over who need specialized support during the day.

Yoga is one of several physical activities offered here, and it’s a hit (see video). The program is led by volunteer Camille Gagnon, a certified yoga instructor.

“I come every other Thursday to teach yoga, but the participants say they want me to come more often,” said Gagnon (pictured, right). “I teach a gentle, chair yoga – especially for people with limited mobility.”

Volunteer yoga instructor Camille GagnonThe class focuses on breathing, stretching and only doing as much as each person feels like they can. Gagnon even encourages them to close their eyes, so they don’t feel pressure to compare themselves to others.

After yoga helped her heal from a bad accident a few years ago, Gagnon is passionate about sharing the practice with others.

“I want to share it with the world, especially the senior community,” she said. “In a short period of time people are more invigorated, some even seem to have better balance – they’re walking taller.”

Marshall says it’s already made a difference in her life.

“I love the yoga,” she said. “I feel so good when I get out of this class, and when I go home from here.”

Adult Day Center Director NancyLee DahlinAnd that’s exactly what program director NancyLee Dahlin (pictured, left) hoped would happen.

“Yoga is both a good physical stretch, and a chance to tune in to what they can do, rather than focusing on what they can’t,” she explained. “People weren’t sure what to expect, but every one of them tells me, ‘I love it, I love it, I love it.'”

Gagnon says teaching here has also enriched her life.

“I can’t stress enough how much volunteering has changed my life and made me want to do more,” she said. “I actually feel a little bit selfish because I am getting so much out of teaching this class. It’s one of the best things I have going.”

And if you ask Marshall, the feeling is mutual.

“I just love it here, it’s a wonderful place for an elderly person,” she said.

Please join The Salvation Army by volunteering or making a donation to support your local community.