Last month I let you know that I would be sharing a student story <almost> every month and I shared Kathy Harris’ story. I believe each of us has a story and as I’ve been teaching yoga, I’m learning anyone who does yoga has a yoga story.  I have always been fascinated with people’s stories – I find them inspiring and moving. And heartbreaking and frustrating. They give me courage and motivation. I think people’s stories are what connects us to others. I think you will find their stories inspiring and moving as well.

This month, I’d like to introduce you to Janelle. I met Janelle when my mom was living at The Villas at Houghton. She lived in the same house as mom, so I got to see her and visit with her frequently. She always has a smile and a hug for me and her stories are the kind that make you want to pull up a chair in her room and sit. And listen. And learn. Like when my friend Kay was here and she wheeled over to her bookshelf and pulled the Betty Crocker cookbook off her shelf (you know the one… read and white cover). Not so special, until we learned that it was a first edition and it was the textbook for her college cooking class. The more time you spend with Janelle, the more you treasure the stories.

Janelle has been attending my chair yoga class at the Villas since I started teaching it in July of 2016. Janelle is not new to yoga; she took her first yoga class in Chicago in the late 50s with a neighbor. She liked the exercise and the practice and kept going to class. She began filling in for that instructor and taught classes. Her passion for yoga sparked her daughters’ interest in yoga; one of them became a certified instructor. And the passion was passed on to her granddaughter, who attended a yoga retreat in Greece last year.

Janelle moved to Tucson in 1977 and couldn’t find a yoga class or instructor she liked and stopped doing yoga. She moved in to the Villas 2 years ago and when she heard about my chair yoga class, she was eager to participate. Yoga helps Janelle with some her health issues – it helps her breathe easier and helps with her Parkinson’s rigidity.

I tell Janelle’s yoga story a lot. I tell it when I hear “I’m too old to do yoga” and I respond with “Janelle does yoga almost every week and she’s 95”. I share Janelle’s story when I hear “I’m not mobile enough to do yoga” and I respond by sharing that Janelle (and many others at the Villas) are confined to a wheelchair. I’m inspired by Janelle every time I’m with her…. I hope her story inspires you too!

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