BENNINGTON — Jane Schaeffer turned to yoga 49 years ago on the advice of a friend. She had just given birth to her first daughter, Ani, and described her mental state as “cuckoo” at the time.
“I was a new mom … nervous about my new baby,” Schaeffer said. “I went to yoga class, and it was such a relief. I could feel like I could breathe.”
That class resulted in many more, turning into a lifelong passion.
Now Schaeffer helps others unite their body, mind and spirit with her yoga studio, The Yoga Place, located at 532 Main St.
The Yoga Place has been in business since 2003. Schaeffer said yoga might be as important as ever during the pandemic with its positive effects on overall well-being.
“One of the things yoga does is it teaches people’s bodies how to be relaxed,” Schaeffer said. “Oftentimes, we’re so tense and worried — especially during this COVID episode — we’re tense all the time.”
Practicing yoga allows the mind and body to reach a new level, according to Schaeffer.
“What yoga will do is sort of be an intervention to help teach people how the body feels when it’s relaxed,” Schaeffer said. “And then once you learn that, then you can actually encourage your body; you can do it on purpose.”
Health benefitsAccording to the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health, yoga can benefit:
general wellness by relieving stress, supporting good health habits, and improving mental/emotional health, sleep and balance;
relieve low-back pain and neck pain, and possibly pain from tension-type headaches and knee osteoarthritis;
help people manage anxiety or depressive symptoms associated with difficult life situations;
and help people with chronic diseases to manage their symptoms and improve their quality of life.
Schaeffer said she wasn’t sure what the future held for The Yoga Place in March 2020 when COVID-19 forced a shutdown.
“At first, I thought that I was gonna have to close the studio,” she said.
Then, one of the instructors began teaching his class on Zoom. She followed his lead, and the classes continued.
Currently, because of the omicron variant causing all-time high case counts throughout the state, most classes are hybrid. Some participate at home via Zoom while others are in the studio, matts spaced 6 feet apart. The Yoga Place requires those coming into the studio to show proof of vaccination.
Levels of yoga
Most classes are geared toward the participants who show up and their level of experience. While there are intermediate and advanced classes, The Yoga Place has also introduced some new members to yoga for the first time during the pandemic. Schaeffer calls that “touching.”
“Recently, someone started taking classes who was having a lot of anxiety, a tremendous amount of anxiety, and not really successful at managing it,” Schaeffer said. “[She] started coming to yoga and was like, ‘Oh, this is the answer.’”
The Yoga Place owner believes that is a common theme among people these days.
“I think people are thirsty for rest and peace,” she …….