By Randy Dela Cruz, Sports Editor
Yoga can be a great way for active-duty military members, their families and retirees to round out fitness routines, and the folks at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam Fitness Center will show them how to get started.
Classes are held from Monday through Saturday. Instructor Capt. Karen McDonald, Naval Health Clinic Hawaii, said that the classes are for everyone, from beginner to advanced students.
“I was taught by an instructor that said you want to make everyone feel comfortable and wanting to come back,” McDonald said. “So I give them choices in every position. This is a general way of making sure that you’re getting the most out of your time and the most out of your practice.”
Apparently the message of yoga is catching on at the base, as the Monday evening class on Jan. 13 was packed from wall-to-wall with eager participants ready to engage in the hour-long session.
Soothed by the warm tones of McDonald’s cadence, attendees set their own pace with McDonald offering tips to individuals as she went along.
“I teach a lot of positioning – making sure they do the right positions,” she said. “So they feel like they can come back and learn something.”
Cryptologic Technician (Technical) Seaman Apprentice Tara Broesche, Navy Information Operations Command (NIOC) Hawaii, said that yoga has helped keep her in shape to meet the demands of the military.
“This really relaxes me and stretches the muscles,” she said.
While the program can be tough enough to work for active-military members, it’s also adaptable for retirees.
Jerry Llanes, a 58-year-old retired Seabee, and his wife of 32 years, Karen, are frequent attendees at McDonald’s classes.
Llanes said that yoga has been a wonderful way to battle ‘Father Time’ and has helped him stay limber and fit.
“It uses all parts of muscles of your body,” he said. “It’s a good medication for stress and you become more limber.”
His wife, Karen, started the trend in the family by attending classes held at Bloch Arena.
A big fan of McDonald’s teaching style, Karen praised the instructor for making the class doable, but also fun for everyone.
“She (McDonald) is the only one I know that makes it kind of funny sometimes,” she said. “A lot of classes are macho. It’s not like that. You just do the best you can do.”
Besides being therapeutic, McDonald added that yoga could provide benefits to even the most devout weightlifter or runner.
“In yoga, we talk about the whole entire body, the whole entire core,” she said. “When you think of some of our positions, there’s no single muscle that you cannot be working.
“And you have to turn off your mind because you can’t do that and hold those positions. It’s the mind/body connection,” McDonald said.
If that isn’t enough to convince you, McDonald said that if you are serious about getting in shape, you should at least give it a try.
While McDonald said that she understands that different things appeal to different people, yoga just might give you the boost you need to keep your body moving.
“I’d say come in and try it,” she said. “You can find your edge again. There’s no competition. It’s do what you can do, enjoy and find something new for you.”
For more information, call the fitness center at 471-2019 or visit the JBPHH MWR website.