2017-01-19 / Life in Leelanau

Yoga warriors work out the kinks in Solon Township

By Patti Brandt Burgess
Of The Enterprise staff


THE MEN’S YOGA class works on stretching and relaxation Friday at the Solon Township Hall. The class, offered by the Cedar Area Community Foundation, is free and open to the public. THE MEN’S YOGA class works on stretching and relaxation Friday at the Solon Township Hall. The class, offered by the Cedar Area Community Foundation, is free and open to the public. Real men do wear yoga pants.

Just ask the six guys who are showing up for a new yoga class being held at 7:30 a.m. every Friday at the Solon Township Hall in Cedar.

“I think it will be very good for me,” said Bill Witler, who was at his first class last week. “I’m stiff and my balance isn’t that good.”

Witler’s wife takes yoga and other fitness classes and encouraged him to go.

But Witler has another reason.

“I’d like to improve my golf game and hang out with my buddies,” he said.

For retired Glen Lake teacher and basketball coach Don Miller, it’s pure vanity.

“We’ve got to stop looking like old men,” Miller said.


RANDY EMEOTT, left, and Paul Chistiansen work on their ‘tree pose’ at a yoga class for men offered by the Cedar Area Community Foundation on Friday mornings at the Solon Township Hall. RANDY EMEOTT, left, and Paul Chistiansen work on their ‘tree pose’ at a yoga class for men offered by the Cedar Area Community Foundation on Friday mornings at the Solon Township Hall. “It’s also an excuse to go out to breakfast,” Witler countered.

The class is taught by instructor Amy Hubbell, who also teaches the popular ‘Yoga on the Beach’ classes during the summer.

Hubbell leads the group through a series of warm-up moves that include stretching and balancing on one foot, eventually moving on to some basic yoga poses.

“Even though we’re challenging ourselves, we want to stay focused on relaxation,” Hubbell tells the class.

If the group was self-conscious about being photographed, they didn’t show it.

“Amy is kind to us,” said Paul Christiansen, also a retired Glen Lake teacher. “She knows her audience and she is doing a very nice job of easing us into everything. It’s good for all of us.”


BILL WITLER, from left, Randy Emeott, Paul Christiansen, Don Miller, Tom Christensen and Chuck Buxton warm up at a men’s yoga class taught by Amy Hubbell. BILL WITLER, from left, Randy Emeott, Paul Christiansen, Don Miller, Tom Christensen and Chuck Buxton warm up at a men’s yoga class taught by Amy Hubbell. Miller said he was pressured into taking the class by Christiansen’s daughter Abbie Christiansen, who is in her fourth year of medical school.

“She’s all about health,” Miller said. “The thing about Abbie is this is not an option. She said, ‘I set it up, you’re gonna do it.’”

Christiansen said he and Miller were recently having their morning coffee together — as the old friends do most mornings — and Christiansen’s two oldest daughters, Abbie Christiansen and Katie Christiansen Holsinger, were home for the holidays.

Both women take yoga themselves, and have had Hubbell to the family’s Maple City home for an event called “yoga and mojitos,” Christiansen said, adding that he did the mojitos, but not the yoga.

“They just think that we have to take a more involved approach to exercise,” he said.

So they approached BJ Christensen, director of the Cedar Area Community Foundation, about having a men’s yoga class.

They also started calling some of their male friends, many of whose wives take exercise classes together.

The group considered calling the class “Broga,” but that name was already copyrighted.

The Cedar group sponsors several other activities, including tai chi that is held at 10 a.m. every Monday and Wednesday at the Solon Township Hall.

All activities are free and open to the public, though people can make donations if they want to.

Yoga classes are structured to take into account any limitations the guys may have, Christensen said.

Anybody can do yoga, said Hubbell, who has taught what has been called a ‘spiritual and ascetic discipline’ since 2010. But it’s important for participants to go at their own pace, she said.

The benefits of yoga go beyond simple exercise.

“It’s not just the physical, but relaxation, stretching, balance and strength,” Hubbell said.

Yoga, in fact, is great for older adults as it can keep a person flexible and build strength through its low-impact moves. It also can be done just about anywhere and doesn’t require any specialized equipment.

Yoga has also been described as a means to a stronger mind-body connection.

“The mental part of it is great,” Miller said. “I’m sure my blood pressure goes down 20 points. It’s very relaxing.”

The class is looking for a few more guys to get involved. Those who come to the class are encouraged to bring a yoga mat, a small folded blanket to place under their knees or heads during some poses, and a bottle of water.

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