Under the supportive eye of her instructor, Seeta Sukhdeo breathes deeply and reaches further. She is clearly enjoying the challenge and benefit of a local seniors’ yoga program—one made possible through the work of United Way.

Widowed 30 years and still carrying family responsibilities, Seeta first attended the program over a year ago, in a bid for relief from the pain of sciatica. “I didn’t know if I could manage any exercise, but afterwards, it felt so good.”

Soon, though, the 72-year-old found that attending the twice-weekly class was more than just a way to relieve pain and stay fit. Indeed, it has become the calendar commitment that lifts her spirits and adds shape to her week. “When I come here, it’s a break. I don’t think about problems. It’s good to get out, to come and be with the group.”

Just one of the many health and social services available to residents under the Hub’s roof, seniors’ yoga is a great success. Intended to encourage physical activity and social connection among older women in the community, the initiative benefited from early outreach efforts and now has a waiting list. Participants have taken ownership, helping to organize it, checking in with one another, even meeting outside of class.

According to Seeta, the program’s popularity is due, in large part, to the inclusive approach of instructor Racheli Wolfson. Adapting the class to diverse abilities, Racheli welcomes all participants, including those dealing with the discomfort and limitations of stroke or cancer recovery, and chronic diseases such as diabetes and arthritis. She challenges them, too, and credits the group’s progress to their dedication and commitment.

“They are more confident about what they can do. They’ve learned how to relax. They’re sleeping better. It’s so beautiful. I see the change in front of my eyes,” Racheli says. “And these women from different backgrounds, different countries and languages—they’ve created a community.”

For Seeta, who often arrives early to help set up, that is clearly the case. “I’d be at home just watching TV if I wasn’t here. I try never to miss yoga. It energizes me.”

Thanks to your generous donation, United Way supports the development of healthy people and strong communities.

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