Written by Abigail Murphy, Turner Center Summer Intern
Every Wednesday at 6 p.m., the Annette Howell Turner Center for the Arts offers a free yoga class open to inspire patrons through the art of good health and relaxation.
Yoga Instructor Roberta George began offering the class while she was the art director at the Turner Center in the early 1990s. Eighteen years later, George is still teaching the yoga class to a regular following of yoga enthusiasts, as well as new patrons; and the class is still offered at no charge to attendees.
“It’s been a free gift to me, and so I want it to be a free gift to anybody,” she said, referring to a man who years ago taught her yoga at no charge.
According to George, Yoga is a physical discipline, an art form that can be thought of similar to dance since it’s an expression of the body and allows for a creative energy to be found. She said, anything that makes people healthier or stronger allows them to be more creative, increasing their appreciation of other people and other art forms.
George remembers a man who lost his two-year-old daughter. He was so angry at the world, and the only thing that kept him from giving up on life was physical exercise. George said his running allowed him to breathe in more oxygen, allowing him to open up in a way he couldn’t before. Countless other stories from friends and patrons reveal their personal stories of coping with challenges and enjoying life at greater levels. George said that is what yoga and other physical activities are about: allowing people to open up in new ways.
“I’ll teach a class. I’ll do the breath of fire [a yoga breathing technique] driving home, and when I get out of the car, I’m ready to clean the house and write the novel,” she said, adding that everyone’s experience is different, but for her yoga gives her strength.
George said when you feel physically strong, your mental state is stronger, too. Yoga can help with longevity in general because it’s giving attention to the body, she said.
“It has saved my life physically and mentally,” she said.
It can also clear the mind allowing for more creativity to flow, becoming a tool for creativity and connecting a person’s physical, mental and spiritual senses, she said.
The yoga classes draw a different audience to the Turner Center, some who have been taking the classes faithfully since George has been teaching them.
Ingrid Carroll, a yoga attendee, said she has been taking the yoga classes at the Turner Center for two to three years. She said she feels very comfortable in class since the movements are simplistic and yet effective. Carroll said she enjoys the class because people of any age can enjoy its benefits.
“Yoga is relaxing and helps people feel better overall,” George said.
For more information about free yoga classes at the Turner Center, visit www.turnercenter.org or call (229) 247-2787.