Yoga Studio Stretches Out to Community

Camarillo Acorn Newspaper
Health & Wellness Section, 10/21/2011
By Daniel Wolowicz

Audrey Walzer Audrey Walzer is a yoga instructor who understands that those who can contort themselves into a human pretzel aren’t afraid to step into a yoga studio.

It’s the folks who have a hard time bending over to tie their shoes that the owner of Camarillo Yoga invites to come to her studio on Santa Rosa Road.

“We call it user-friendly yoga because it is not a lot of young, Gumby-like people doing pretzely things,” said Walzer, a longtime Camarillo resident and yoga instructor for more than 20 years. “A lot of people come in with back pain or feeling very stiff because they sit at a desk all day.”

Walzer believes that yoga, the ancient art of stretching and maintaining poses to improve balance, strength and flexibility, is beneficial to anyone at any stage in life.

Camarillo Yoga offers a variety of classes, including prenatal, baby, family, therapeutic and laughter, for a wide range of abilities, from beginners to advanced.

As baby boomers age, Walzer said, she has seen a growing number of middle-aged students join her classes. It has helped dispel the longtime misconception that yoga is for younger, more athletic students.

“In your middle years, there’s only two ways you can go: You can move forward with better health or you can move into decrepitude,” Walzer said. “There is a choice.”

Walzer said those in her generation— she’s 54—“don’t want to live the way our parents did. We don’t want to believe that at 75 we’re going to be decrepit.”

Andy Barton, a commercial airline pilot and retired Navy captain, said back pain six years ago made it too painful to fly.

The 53-year-old Camarillo resident said he was introduced to yoga, and it changed his life.

“After about three months, I realized I didn’t have any pain in my back at all,” Barton said. “After six months, I realized I didn’t have any pain anywhere.”

Barton and his wife, Allison, are now substitute yoga teachers at Walzer’s studio.

He said yoga has strengthened his body, helped him lose weight and made it possible for him to spend long hours sitting in the cockpit without back pain.

Walzer said it may take a few classes for first-time students to feel comfortable with yoga, but added that the benefits of stretching and maintaining a proper posture go a long way toward lessening back, shoulder and joint pain. It also reduces stress.

“You have to be willing to be a beginner,” Walzer said. “You have to be able to be willing to feel a little awkward. When we get older, we typically only do the things that we’re good at doing.”

Walzer opened Camarillo Yoga on Sept. 10, 2001—one day before the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11.

Despite the national anxiety in the months after the attacks and the rocky economy, the Canadian native’s business venture has been successful. The studio recently celebrated its 10th anniversary with a benefit event that raised about $7,600 in money and other donations for RAIN Transitional Living Center, a Camarillo-based shelter for homeless families.

The studio in the Santa Rosa Plaza holds 28 weekly classes and has roughly 500 students come through its door each week.

Walzer said her studio’s success over the years is built on the simple idea that anybody can do yoga and that each class should be led by a hands-on teacher who takes the time to tailor the class so it best suits those students.

“ When you come in you have teachers here,” Walzer said. “They’re not just going to lead you around and let you watch them while you try to figure it out. We’re going to teach you how to do it.”

Walzer, who earned her degree in kinesiology from Seneca College in Toronto, moved to Camarillo in 1995 from Marina del Rey, where she owned a yoga studio for four years. She’d previously worked as a gymnastics coach and helped train the 1976 Canadian Olympics team.

Although being a small business owner can be trying at times, Walzer said it gives her the freedom to teach the classes the way she feels is best.

“It’s a way to do what you love to do, the way you want to do it,” she said.

Walzer lives in Camarillo with her 15-year-old son, Noah.

What does Walzer love most about what she does?

“I enjoy watching people learn about their bodies, understand their bodies and how to live more comfortably and freely,” she said

Camarillo Yoga is at 5800 Santa Rosa Road, Ste. 127.

For more information, call (805) 484-8810.