Each yoga studio has its own character, something about it that speaks to the particular community who chooses to practice there. For Mountain Yoga, a neighborhood yoga studio in the Oakland Hills, one of its primary distinguishing characteristics is inclusiveness.
“There was a time when yoga was quite exclusive,” says Ann Dyer, the 61-year-old owner and director of Mountain Yoga. “If you didn’t know, you didn’t deserve to know.”
When she assumed ownership of the studio, she knew she wanted to foster a much different sort of community. “I wanted a welcoming, comfortable place for all backgrounds and ages – especially people new to yoga,” Ann says. “A large part of our culture is open-arms inclusivity. We do everything we can to make everyone comfortable, because everyone can benefit from yoga.”
Revel members will convene at Mountain Yoga on Jan. 12 for a “Yoga for Everyone” class.
Mountain Yoga has been particularly tuned in to the benefits of yoga for health and wellness over 50, with a program called “booming” aimed at “yoga and inspiration for the third third of life.”
“Aging doesn’t look like it once did,” Ann says. “All our assumptions around aging are coming into question. Baby boomers are a very dynamic, energized generation and yoga is a way for people to stay vital physically and intellectually.”
Ann has a strong background in the arts as both a professional dancer and vocalist, and that has lent a more artistic, holistic approach to the studio. Programs highlight the “spirit in motion,” bringing in world-renowned figures each month to lead workshops in Hawaiian dance and Sufism, as well as chanting and sound, and the yoga of writing.
“They are all designed to transform people into states of more love and connection,” Ann says.
She says afternoon yoga classes for participants 50 and over are some of the studio’s most popular, and Mountain Yoga offers a series of classes aimed at healing and strength for particular areas of the body – including necks, hearts, bones, and backs - with Dr. Baxter Bell, a local family medical practitioner, yoga teacher, and co-author of the book “Yoga for Healthy Aging.”
Yoga can be practiced throughout one’s life, adapted to each stage, says Ann. She can help guide students of all ages, because she’s made these adaptations to her own yoga practice.
“As I was approaching menopause, for instance, I had to radically change my yoga practice to help address the issues of heat that can come from that time-life transition,” she says. “Then, when I got a little bit older, I had some issues with joint pain. Yoga can help alleviate all of the various challenges that come with the different stages of our lives."
You may need to warm up a bit more, says Ann, but it doesn’t mean that students need to be relegated to Gentle Yoga class as they age. “It just means your body behaves differently,” she says. “You can still do a strong practice. What's most important is that you do the right practice to support your well-being and your life — whatever stage of life you are in.”