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Practicing Yoga in Panama

By Nancy Szafranski

My husband Paul and I recently made the decision to try the Panama lifestyle for a minimum of a year.  I retired from a 25-year career in a dental office, and Paul retired over a year ago after 20 years as a music educator.  We both led very busy lives in Florida, which did not allow much personal time to focus on health and well being.

Due to that “I don’t have time!” reason that many of us are familiar with, health and exercise was always at the bottom of my list. I decided a while ago that when I retired (someday…), I would focus on building a healthier lifestyle.  My step-daughter Jillian is a yoga instructor in Los Angeles and was always encouraging me to take yoga classes; she said it would be very good for my “aging body”.

I had only taken one yoga class years ago in Florida; however, when I arrived here in Panama a friend invited me to a water yoga class.  Well, this was it: someday had arrived! I was retired, I had the time, and there were no more excuses. I went to my first class of yoga in Panama — and I loved it. I took a hatha yoga class the very next day.  My instructor, Amanda, is wonderful and very patient with us “yoga virgins”.  I guess you could say I am addicted now!

Yes, at times doing yoga in Panama is uncomfortable and hot since the classes are held in a charming outdoor studio, but the benefits far outweigh the discomfort.  I attend two or three hatha classes and one water yoga class every week and have seen an increase in core strength and endurance already. I suffer from osteoporosis and know that my bones need to be stronger to reduce the symptoms later in life, and, as a weight-bearing exercise, yoga is perfect for that. Yoga can be gentle or challenging (sometimes both in the same class!) but we’re always encouraged to work at our own pace.

Developing a healthy habit has to start somewhere! Coming to Panama is the perfect time to introduce new, healthier behaviors into your life. When you get here, everything is new — so a yoga class won’t be so out of place. Put it into your schedule as soon as you can, and it’ll become a regular part of your routine, as it now is for me.  I encourage both men and women who want to “give back” to their bodies to sign up for a practice of yoga that works for them.  If you’re near Coronado, join me for a class at El Litoral; call Anne-Marie Bergeron at 507-240-1474 for more information.

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