ENCINITAS — When Silver Age Yoga students at the Encinitas Library found out the city was going to start charging a fee for the free yoga classes they had been taking for 10 years, they wrote letters, attended a City Council meeting, and helped keep the service free.
In March, the city of Encinitas took over running the Community Room at the library, which used to be run by the county. The city wanted to start charging a fee to anyone who would be using the community room, including the Silver Age Yoga program.
“The fee was going to be almost $10,000 a year,” Tracy Myers, a Silver Age Yoga board member and instructor, said in an interview. “As a small nonprofit, we could not afford to pay that fee. We would have needed to start charging our students for classes, and we didn’t want to do that because that is not the Silver Age Yoga mission.”
Myers said when the senior yoga students who take classes at the library found out, they were upset and began writing letters to the city asking if something could be done to save their classes. She said about 35 students attended a City Council meeting last month to show their support. The council voted at that meeting, held July 10, to approve waiving rental and staffing fees for the program for one year.
“We are all very appreciative of that,” Myers said.
Silver Age Yoga was founded in 2003 and developed a new and unique style of yoga based on the principles of geriatric science emphasizing health-enhancing benefits. Its mission is to provide “health-enhancing, life-enriching yoga classes to underserved seniors.”
The nonprofit organization receives funding from grants as well as donations from supporters, family foundations and some students. The donations supplement their budget to pay their teachers. They have never charged students for classes.
For over 10 years, two Silver Age Yoga classes have been offered every week in the community room at the library, on Tuesdays from 1 to 2 p.m. with Myers, and on Wednesdays from 1:30 to 2:30 p.m., with Butch Whitmore. Both Myers and Whitmore are certified Silver Age Yoga instructors. About 40 to 60 seniors take the classes each week.
Students have the choice to sit in a chair or use a yoga mat in the library classes. The chair is used for stability during standing postures.
“We start from the top of our heads to the tips of our toes, stretching everything in between,” said Myers, who’s been teaching Silver Age yoga at the library for four years.
Myers said the classes are fun and healing and there are many benefits. Yoga helps improve balance, stability, flexibility and joint health; strengthen bones and muscles; improve respiration; reduce high blood pressure and anxiety; lift depression; encourage mindfulness of the body, thoughts and emotions; and sharpen the mind.
Silver Age Yoga offers free classes in 25 locations throughout San Diego County.
“Having local options for wellness is essential for seniors as it increases their quality of life and enhances their ability to be involved within the community and engaged with younger generations,” Victoria Hobbs, the executive director of Silver Age Yoga, wrote in a letter to the council in June.
Hobbs wrote that students say the classes address their health concerns, provide them with hope, improved health, more sociability, and they enjoy a happier, fuller life. One member of the class, in her 90s, said her recent decision to move to a local retirement home was based in part on its proximity to her church and her yoga class.
“I love the enthusiasm of the students, some of them in their 90s,” Myers said. “The students are very grateful to be able to take these classes.”
Photo Caption: Silver Age Yoga students attend a class run by Tracy Myers at the Encinitas Senior Center. Photo courtesy Tracy Myers