Yoga: Vinyasa Style ‘My Yoga Story’: Evy Birkemo

Evy Birkemo practicing yoga outdoors during the pandemic lockdown this summer

Evy Birkemo practicing yoga outdoors during the pandemic lockdown this summer

Sheila Axtman

When we moved to Sun Lakes in 2000, I was still working fulltime and wasn’t able to take part in any of the classes offered during the day. Driving past all my neighbors getting ready to play golf, tennis, swim, and walk in the sunshine was a real downer. I knew I was going to spend the next 10 hours cooped up in an office. Fast forward to January, 2015; hooray, I was finally retired and free to join the party!

I always wanted to try yoga, and I showed up one Tuesday in January to give it a whirl. The instructor, Sheila Axtman, told me I was welcome to try, but it might be difficult, because I had never done yoga before. For those of you not familiar with Vinyasa yoga, it’s not just sitting on a comfy cushion going “Oooommmm!” We are up and down, moving from one pose to another very quickly. The challenge of timing your breath with the shifting poses is very hard at first, but once mastered, is very peaceful and relaxing.

I made it through that first class with some stops and starts, but was hooked on the adventure. Sheila very thoroughly explains which muscles are supposed to be used in each pose and helps with the basics of getting it right. I loved doing yoga so much that I never missed a class until August, 2017, when I finally gave in to knee pain and had a total knee replacement. For two months in therapy, I was struck at how many of the therapeutic moves were so close to yoga actions and poses. Once I finished therapy, I returned to yoga, and although some of the poses like Hero and Child’s pose are not in my repertoire anymore, I can improvise with a different stretch move.

I love the friends I have made at yoga and wouldn’t trade the hours I spend in class for anything else. I feel fit and toned, I have improved posture and balance, and the breathing techniques can, and actually have, lowered my blood pressure. Get up! Get fit! Feel great! Remember, only three things don’t lie: small children, drunks, and yoga pants!

Classes are Tuesdays and Thursdays at 10 a.m.

CWPV residents can reserve a spot in class up to two weeks ahead of time on the Cottonwood Palo Verde website. Residents of all other Sun Lakes communities are welcome, and can reserve a spot in class by calling the Fitness Center early on the morning of class at 480-895-1776.

Pay Sheila directly in the classroom, $5 per class. She can be reached at 480-264-9951.