Yoga teacher shakes up chamber meeting

Wednesday, October 24, 2018 - 10:38

Wednesday’s meeting of the Chugiak-Eagle River Chamber of Commerce got a little loose.

“Be weird,” guest speaker Mary McCormick said as chamber members swayed their hips, rocked back and forth on their heels and rolled their ankles inside the Eagle River Ale House.

Businessmen in ties and women in pantsuits dutifully followed along as McCormick led them through a series of basic yoga stretches and exercises designed to increase flexibility, improve body alignment and enhance overall health. Despite the initial awkwardness, the group seemed to loosen up as McCormick’s half-hour speech went on.

“Yoga is playful, it is powerful, it is purposeful,” she said.

McCormick owns All Life is Yoga in Eagle River, where she teaches the ancient exercise first practiced more than 5,000 years ago in India. Though she’s a firm believer in the practice that incorporates stretching, breathing and meditation, she said yoga’s mystical reputation shouldn’t put people off its benefits.

“It is not a religion,” she said.

Instead, she told the crowd yoga is a way to unlock overall health in people of all ages. One of her clients, she said, is an 89-year-old woman who never misses a class.

“She’s a rock star,” McCormick said.

Yoga works because it focuses on what people can do, rather than what they can’t.

“We’re grateful for what we can do today,” she said.

Among the exercises McCormick walked chamber members through was the simple exercise of rolling a tennis ball around beneath their feet. She said doing things like rolling the ball, rolling ankles and stretching joints can go a long way toward improving overall health. Combined with other stretches, breathing and meditation, people can see enormous benefits such as increased muscle and bone strength, better sleep and an enhanced immune system.

“How flexible you are is you health,” she said.

McCormick said her goal is to help make Chugiak-Eagle River “the healthiest community ever” and challenged those in attendance to spend at least four percent of their day focused on health.

“You can find that one hour every day,” she said.

The bottom line, she said, is that the more people use their bodies and pay attention to their health, the better the outcomes.

“If we do not practice stuff, we lose it,” she said.

Email Star editor Matt Tunseth at [email protected]

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