Yoga Key to Her Flexibility

Jane Garcia and Dr. Stephen Newman

For years, Dr. Stephen Newman had been hounding Jane Garcia to give yoga a try. A yoga enthusiast himself, he knew it could offer his patient more flexibility and mobility as she aged.

Jane’s a great example of what yoga can do for you.

—Dr. Stephen Newman

But it wasn’t until her daughter Terri accompanied her to a doctor’s appointment that Jane finally got the extra push she needed. When they left the Center for Primary Care in Vacaville, they headed directly to Vacaville’s McBride Senior Center, where Terri promptly signed them both up for weekly classes.

Now Jane is a fixture every Monday morning. And at 86, she’s more flexible than many seniors her age. “She’s amazing,” admits yoga instructor Judy Jordan. “She goes through postures like a 20-year-old!”

Jane admits that she’s pretty lucky when it comes to health issues. Her primary medications are cholesterol pills, calcium and some eye drops. But a few years ago, she was plagued with neck and back pain.

Yoga has made a huge improvement in her quality of life, she says. She walks up to two hours a day, does her own yard work and can perform such yoga moves as “Downward Dog Pose” and “Plank Pose.”

At a recent checkup, Terri told Dr. Newman of her mother’s abilities and he couldn’t believe it. “She can really do the plank?” he asked incredulously. “You bet I can,” replied a spunky Jane.

Then he made her prove it, taking her to a conference room and clearing the floor. Sure enough, she could.Now he brags about her to his other patients. Jane can’t believe that, when told. “Oh, that Dr. Newman is
a stinker,” she chuckles.

“The benefits are tremendous,” says Dr. Newman. “There’s strength, balance, range of motion and body connections. Of course, sometimes you have to really push yourself to take it to your limit.”

The over-50 class at the senior center has a mix of participants, although Jane is probably the oldest, says instructor Judy. Cost is $21 a month for classes on Mondays or Thursdays, from 9:30 to 11 a.m. Signups are taken at McBride Senior Center between 9 a.m. and noon Monday through Friday.

“We really focus on strength and flexibility,” Judy says. “Jane’s a great example of what yoga can do for you.”

“She does better than me,” says Terri, noting that her mother never complains. “You don’t have to be young to be active,” says Jane. “People are doing more and more these days. I couldn’t do much when I started, but now I can do most of the moves.”

Balancing Benefits

With its emphasis on slow stretches and increased flexibility, it’s no wonder that many doctors recommend yoga to their patients.

Dr. Stephen Newman of NorthBay’s Center for Primary Care goes a step further and practices what he preaches. An avid yoga enthusiast, he has taken classes and practices his skills at least twice a week.

Among the benefits, he cites: increased flexibility, reduction of stress, improved balance, increased strength, toned muscles and fewer injuries.

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