Panama City - It's estimated 11 million Americans currently practice yoga, which is known for it's many physical and mental benefits. Now more and more locals are experiencing those benefits thanks to a group of generous instructors. Yoga classes in Bay County are more accessible than ever thanks to several local certified instructors who are passionate about making the practice available to everyone.
Under the shade of giant Oak trees, a group of yoga students practice this ancient art to improve their flexibility, strength, and balance. You might never guess this serene setting, at The Little Village on the banks of Lake Ware, is just a few hundred feet from the center of downtown St. Andrews. This hidden gem is just one of a growing number of local venues where beginners and experienced yogis alike can practice together thanks to instructors like Judy Christian. "We work with people with all levels of experience, beginners, people who may have been afraid to try yoga up until now. We really have a heart for those folks who want to come and understand a little bit more about themselves," said Judy.
Mark Ebel is a living testimony to the power of yoga. "I got started with this due to back pain," said Mark. He's been practicing almost daily for the past 15 years. "I've stayed out of the back doctors office and kept healthy. I can get more back pain relief form an hour yoga class than 6 Advil pills."
It's stories like his that are prompting Judy and her fellow instructors to expand their offerings and often, for a minimal cost. "For many venues it is just a donation based class. At some of the venues the donations go 100% to local missions. So whether people are interested in practicing in a wonderful outdoor setting like this, or in the gym, or on the beach, in the morning, or in the evening, we are trying to put together a complete schedule of opportunities for people," said Judy.
Interested in a trying a class? They are offered at The Little Village in St. Andrews on Thursday and Friday mornings for a $5 donation. Monday night, Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday mornings they are offered at Woodlawn United Methodist Church. Other venues include the Zen Garden, Golds Gym, the new Rock Pile gym and the Curves at 79. The first Saturday of every month there is a yoga meet up at rotating locations. See the link for more specific class schedule information.