Yoga For Every Body:
Regardless of your skill level, there’s never been a better time to find your perfect yoga match.
By Elisa Huang
Camarillo Yoga Center was featured in this article in the January/February 2015 issue of AAA Westways Magazine.
Read the article here]]>
Review from LA Yoga Magazine:
Easy Yoga Stretches with Audrey Walzer is the perfect DVD for those who desperately need the physical benefits of Yoga, but may feel overwhelmed by the philosophy or athleticism of many Yoga practices. The 240-minute DVD is broken up into three types of practice sequences: those for home, office, and travel. Each section is divided into both a step-by-step instruction of the sequence and a guided practice set to music for a fluid experience. Waltzer’s offers a practical and therapeutic approach. The postures selected encourage lengthening and stretching to relieve muscle tension and pain that may result from poor posture, or everyday work and activity.
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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.]]>
Our students voted Camarillo Yoga Center “Ventura County’s Best” yoga studio in this year’s Ventura County Reader Newspaper Poll. Some have never been to another yoga school, others have been to many- all who voted cared enough to spend the time writing in 30 categories of local businesses they appreciated, including Camarillo Yoga, and including me as their teacher. In our case, I think the idea of “besting”anyone else isn’t the sentiment that motivated us. When I sit on my block at the front of the room as our classes begin, I often say it feels like Romper Room… “I see Rose, and Andy, and Francine and …. “ so many familiar faces, many who have been in our classes since we opened 11 years ago. And new faces, smiling with nervous anticipation, whose evolving yoga practice will often bring me to tears as I see physical pain dissolve over weeks and months, as I see their guard come down, recognizing that they will not be judged or humiliated for what they can or cannot do, and instead be recognized for the beautiful and absolutely unique qualities they bring to our community.
Every day, I feel like I have “The Best” job in the world, and “The Best” students to share yoga with. Although we have a roof to pay for, I am so grateful that our relationship is not one of “service provider” and ”client” but instead yoga practitioners and friends together in this life journey, even if we have just met. I am particularly fortunate as a teacher of so many classes, over so many years, with so many students, that my own faults and missteps are forgiven, and I have permission to grow as a human being too, secure in the love and kindness of those I spend my days with.
We live in a town where the weather is darn near perfect, we are not lacking for any of the necessities of life, and we have the extreme luxury of spending hours together each week, keeping our bodies healthy with the physical practices of yoga, calming our minds with breathing and meditation, and nourishing our spirits with the cameraderie we share before and after our practice begins. I believe we recognize that we have “The Best” lives anyone could hope for, despite our inevitable ups and downs, and Camarillo Yoga is a place we gather to remember that.
I think it is unique that each of our teachers has chosen to teach yoga not to make a living or show off their own skills, but to share the gift of yoga with others, because it has made such a difference in their own lives. You couldn’t find a kinder, more compassionate and less pretentious group: Allison, Andy, Bette, Christi, Cynthia, Darci, Francine, Janet, Jennie, Julie, Margot, Michele, Mike, Nicole, RRRRRoni!, Susan & Tara… your loyalty to the intention of the work we do, and the inclusiveness of our community is what makes CYC ”The Best” for all of us.
For me, CYC is also “The Best” because we have joined together so many times in the practice of ’Karma Yoga,” or ”Paying it Forward.” Over the years we have worked together, our community has astounded me with their generosity and efforts to make a difference in the lives of others. We come together as a community again on Saturday September 29, to celebrate our 11th anniversary and to raise much needed funds for RAIN Transitional Living Center for Homeless Families in Camarillo. There is more information about our special day on our website home page, and on our workshops/events page.
May our hearts all find peace amid chaos. Together in our small pond, may we float like the lotus, at home in muddy waters.
Ventura County Star
by Alicia Doyle
Photo by Karen Quincy Loberg
Children who practice yoga are more relaxed, function better in and out of school and sleep better at night, according to yoga teacher Julie Markovitz.
“Children receive many benefits from having a yoga practice,” said Markovitz, of Agoura Hills. “As children learn age-appropriate poses, they build confidence and self-esteem in addition to developing strength, balance, coordination and inner calm. Yoga is fun, playful and creative and provides a safe environment for kids to be imaginative, curious and joyful.”
Starting in August, Markovitz will teach a class for children ages 5 and older at the Camarillo Yoga Center.
“My yoga classes for young children incorporate safe, age appropriate poses,” Markovitz said. “I include simple breathing techniques to help children relax, feel good and enjoy the present moment. … In addition to practicing individual yoga poses, children learn partner and group poses, which build friendships.”
In a typical class, children place their mats in a circle. They begin seated, and take a few centering breaths.
“Then each child shares something special about themselves — their favorite thing to do when they’re not in school or their favorite fruit. … Every week, the children learn more about themselves and each other,” Markovitz said. “Then the theme of the day is introduced and the yoga adventure begins.”
For instance, “the adventure could be a pretend bike ride to the park,” Markovitz said. These pretend visions are then combined with yoga poses. For instance, “if he or she sees a dog, they practice a downward-facing dog pose. If they see a cat, they practice a cat pose — if they see a tree, they practice a tree pose.”
Yoga is something kids can do for their entire life to stay healthy and balanced in body and mind, said Audrey Walzer, owner of Camarillo Yoga.
“How many kids actually pursue ballet or soccer as adults?” Walzer said. “Yoga gives them the mindset of cooperation, determination and also compassion and teamwork. Yoga also helps kids who are athletic balance their bodies to reduce the likelihood of injury.”
Tara Stivers, of Camarillo, enrolled her 8-year-old daughter Kyla. Yoga has made Kyla more aware of her body’s strength, the mom said.
“Julie also really encourages the kids to use their imaginations, something Kyla loves to do,” Stivers said.
Kyla said: “Yoga is relaxing. It has helped me be more flexible for things like musical theater.”
Sherry Yilmaz, of Camarillo, enrolled her 9- and 6-year-old sons.
“It helps us all with focusing, flexibility and relaxation,” she said.
Yoga “is fun and helps teach my boys to make time for their health … and they help mom stay healthy by taking class with me.”
“Laughter Yoga” has been scientifically proven to reduce stress and increase “happiness chemicals” in your brain, and was recently featured in Time Magazine. Start your weekend with a laugh that’s good for you! This class is free and offered for community well-being by Roni, a certified “Laughter Yoga” instructor!Learn more about our Laughter Yoga classes
Camarillo Acorn Newspaper
By Michael Coons
HOLD STEADY—Jennifer Baker of Camarillo and her daughter, Ceri, practice their stance during a family yoga session at CamarilloYoga Center on Sept. 29. In celebration of the yoga studio’s 11th anniversary, all proceeds from the day’s class will be donated to Camarillo’s RAINTransition Living Center, a facility for homeless women and families. MICHAEL COONS/Acorn Newspapers
Learn more about our Family Yoga Classes]]>
95-year-old stays active and healthy at local yoga studio
by Mark Storer
Special to the Acorn
George Benson has been active all his life. He ran a floor care and cleaning business in the San Fernando Valley from 1977 to 2001 and has always done his best to keep moving every day.
The lifestyle has worked well for the soon-tobe 96-year-old Leisure Village resident.
Benson said he felt he was slowing down about 10 years ago when he had a back issue—a problem that led him to try yoga and a whole new way to move his body.
“My wife, Joyce, and I were walking by the shops up on Santa Rosa Road, and we walked by the yoga studio there. I said, ‘Why don’t we go in there and ask them about my back?’ It changed my life,” he said.
The studio was the Camarillo Yoga Center on Santa Rosa Road.
“He was already standing really straight and he had good posture,” said Audrey Walzer, owner and director of the center. “He got his back better and pretty quickly he was doing intermediate classes. He really works at it and at that time was in classes with 20- and 30-year-olds.”
Benson, who has been a vegetarian for more than 65 years, was “in love with yoga,” he said. He worked at it and began subscribing to yoga magazines.
“It became not only physically good for me but also a social thing. I’ve met great friends through yoga, including Audrey.”
But about three years ago, Benson developed an eye disease that required him to wear an eye patch while he healed.
Walzer said wearing the patch caused Benson to look down when he walked.
“The result was that he got hunched over pretty quickly,” the yoga instructor said.
Benson now uses a walker and that has led to problems with his legs, Walzer said.
“We’re working on loosening him up a bit,” she said, adding, “He’s been able to get back some range of motion, and we’re getting there.”
As Walzer talks, Benson demonstrates some of the stretches and movements that help him.
“It just allows me to feel better,” he said. “It upsets me to no end that I have trouble walking, but it’s the hand I’ve been dealt and I’ve got to deal with it.”
Benson served in the Navy during World War II, based at Pearl Harbor after 1941.
“I was supposed to serve on a ship called the Blackhawk that was headed to the Philippines,” Benson said. “But a lieutenant I knew wanted me to stay with him at Pearl, and he transferred me. I must have been pretty lucky because the Blackhawk was torpedoed and they lost a lot of men. I could have been one of them.”
Benson married after the war. He and his first wife had four children before she died. He married Joyce 37 years ago and they had one child.
Joyce doesn’t do yoga, but she said it’s been good for her husband.
“ He really loves it. His friends come from there and it really does help him physically,” Joyce said.
“I’m really glad he went into the classes. It’s been wonderful.”
Walzer says yoga is good for anyone of any age.
“The biggest thing that people say to me is, ‘I can’t do yoga, I’m not flexible.’ It’s kind of a misnomer,” Walzer said. “Yoga is a tool to keep yourself healthy and balanced. It’s not about being good at it. It’s not about a standard or goal. It’s about practicing healthy living.”
Benson will continue to do his best to stay healthy.
“The thing is, I move a lot and I eat fresh foods,” said Benson. “It doesn’t hurt that there are a lot of pretty girls who go to the classes with me, either.”
By Tara Stivers, CYC Yoga Teacher
Being a mother means being a nurturer. Pre-natal yoga provides a setting for mothers-to-be to develop nurturing skills by practicing on ourselves, caring for our own physical and emotional health, and for one another as we prepare for this life-changing experience. Just as we must put on our own oxygen mask in an airplane before helping our children, so must we as mothers practice the loving kindness and empathy required for parenting by developing a loving, patient and flexible attitude toward the myriad of changes that pregnancy brings in our lives.
In our Pre-natal class at Camarillo Yoga Center, women in various stages of pregnancy arrive and settle in, some attending their very first yoga class (for many, yoga practice begins during pregnancy.) The first part of class is set aside for sharing and support. Some women share feelings of awe in growing another person; others lament their physical challenges and changing emotions. Most feel relief in knowing they aren’t alone in their experiences.
Mothers are then guided into the physical yoga practice, ending with an extended period of relaxation. Throughout the class, the teacher encourages mothers’ connection with their babies and mindfulness of the amazing transformation taking place within their bodies. Among various forms of exercise, physical yoga practice is uniquely suited to pregnancy precisely because of the aspect of mindfulness that includes the baby, instead of exercising despite the fact of pregnancy.
Benefits of Yoga Practice During Pregnancy Include:
Strength. Pregnancy brings hormone changes that relax the joints and smooth muscle. Yoga helps maintain muscle strength to protect the joints and promote good posture, supporting your changing pregnant body. Pregnancy-friendly poses help develop strong muscles that are helpful during labor and birth.
Comfort and flexibility. Sharing your body is a new experience! Poses adapted to pregnancy are designed to help alleviate common physical challenges, such as hip and low back discomfort, sciatic nerve pain, difficulty breathing, heartburn, swelling and carpal tunnel symptoms. Safe slow stretching helps alleviate tension that may contribute to discomfort.
Relaxation and coping skills. A key part of any prenatal yoga practice is breath awareness. Many women claim this to be their greatest resource during labor. Breathing practice nourishes your baby and activates the parasympathetic nervous system, thereby reducing fear and tension, which can make for an easier labor. In prenatal yoga, more time is usually spent in savasana – or relaxation at the end of class – than in a traditional yoga class. Guided relaxation and positive affirmations are used as mental preparation for labor.
Body awareness. Women have birthed babies since the beginning of time by listening to their bodies. Through yoga practice, you will identify and respond to discomfort – which becomes helpful during labor, where following your instincts to move becomes a powerful coping mechanism. Prenatal yoga can help you embrace your changing body, trust your ability to birth, and surrender to the process that is, for the most part, beyond your control (another great skill to have during motherhood!)
A safe form of exercise. Some traditional yoga poses are contraindicated during pregnancy, and a more gentle yoga practice may be best for you and your baby. Experienced yogis will learn which poses should be avoided during pregnancy, as well as alternative poses should they continue to participate in a regular yoga class. (Be sure to let any yoga teacher know that you are pregnant!)
Time to connect with your baby. Studies show that stress can negatively impact pregnancy and affect birth outcomes. Taking time each day to focus on simply spending time and relaxing with your baby, while leaving the events of the day aside, can be a wonderful gift for both of your physical and emotional health. Prenatal yoga sets aside time for just this – bringing awareness to the miracle of growing a little person who is very lucky to have you!
Sisterhood. Prenatal yoga classes provide a place to lend and receive support from other women making the same journey. This is a place where slowing down and taking it easy on a more challenging day is comfortable and accepted, and where processing emotions is welcome. Pre-natal yoga is often a place where friendships are formed, which continue through birth and into raising children together.
Yoga practice during pregnancy helps you tap into the innate strength and wisdom your body possesses to grow and bring your baby into the world, regardless of how your birth unfolds. Pre-natal yoga provides a safe place to practice, where slowing down and adapting to your physical changes is part of the process.
In a world where the pregnancy and birth experience can be overwhelmed by technology, interventions and an abundance of information, prenatal yoga offers the opportunity to reconnect with your body and your baby, and to find respite from anxiety or fear. Pre-natal yoga supports you to enjoy a positive pregnancy and birth experience!
Tara Stivers, International Board Certified Lactation Consultant (IBCLC) and Certified Childbirth Educator, leads the Pre-natal Yoga, Infant Massage and Breastfeeding Support Classes at the Camarillo Yoga Center. She stepped into her first yoga class while pregnant 14 years ago, and continues to enjoy the friendship of her fellow “Yoga Moms”.
Pre-natal yoga is offered weekly at Camarillo Yoga Center, as well as a quarterly Active Birth Workshop designed for couples.
Learn more about our Pre-natal Classes
Support is also provided after baby arrives!
Join us for our Baby Yoga & Infant Massage classes and our Breastfeeding Support Group.
This holiday season, remember: Your good health is the best gift of all!
“Why are you saying, “Do you mind moving your leg?” I don’t mind. I want to do this. I love to do this.” These words are gifts from my good friend and yoga student George Benson, who practiced yoga with me regularly until a week before he passed away in August, at the age of 96.
George’s determination to keep up his strength and live life to the fullest, despite limitations due to an internal issue last year, inspired all of us at Camarillo Yoga Center. How could anyone think of complaining about a little physical effort to stay in good shape, while George made it clear he was not to be babied at 96, and that his lifelong exercise and nutritional discipline had provided him excellent health well into the years when many are in sad decline? His puzzlement at the idea that someone would mind doing whatever it takes to be in good health was an insightful commentary on the changes in our physical culture during the decades of George’s life.
As a young man in the navy, George began working out with weights, and continued an active life, swimming, hiking and running, until he developed a back issue at 86, and found yoga at Camarillo Yoga Center. Many years of strengthening, and working at jobs involving physical labor had caused tight muscles; George discovered that with a dedicated stretching program, his back pain was relieved entirely, and he became a fixture in our classes. At an age where many would give in and give up, George, as he always said, “played the cards he was dealt,” and made the effort to live with gusto into his nineties. At his memorial service, George’s daughter told us juicing was not a new fad in their lives- her dad bought massive bags of carrots for juicing in the 1950’s! A vegetarian for 65 years, George eschewed sugar and junk food, but loved to eat and delighted in healthy, tasty recipes, many with vegetables from his own garden, prepared by his beloved wife, Joyce. George was always quick with a joke, and his love of life was infectious.
In contrast to George’s active, healthy life, statistics show that today, only 30% of adult Americans take part in exercise of any kind! Not surprisingly, 35.7% of adults and 30% of children are obese, and these numbers are growing rapidly. Having been a teacher of yoga and movement for adults and children for over forty years, my experience is that fewer people tell me they enjoy moving their bodies, and working up a sweat. I regularly hear that perspiring or being warm “makes me uncomfortable” and “I really should exercise, but I just don’t like the feeling.” Additionally, we think of fatty, fried or sugar laden foods as treats, and “make ourselves” eat fruits and vegetables.
When did it become a burden to move our bodies the way nature intended, and to eat foods nature provides without draining them of all nutritional content? When did we lose sight of the gift of good health?
One clue is to look at the major labor-saving technological changes in the span of George’s lifetime:
My belief is that the “progress” which has allowed us to be more “comfortable” and have more leisure time, has weakened our bodies and our minds, and taken away the gift of effort, of sweat, of overcoming obstacles through our own application and persistence over time. We look for easy and fast at every turn, and fall prey to gimmicks that tell us on every level that we can look good and feel good without having to do anything at all.
The holidays are nearly here. While we shop online for more stuff, “treat ourselves” with holiday sweets and overeating, and create back pain driving far and wide, let’s remember George, and what is really important-
The best gift you can give yourself, your family, and the world, is a healthy you. Let’s change our minds about what we “mind” and what we enjoy. Let’s get strong and proud of it. Start small. Enjoy a walk with a loved one. Ask for a bicycle for Christmas. Take pride in the “effort” it takes to wash some blueberries for breakfast, or create a meal that’s healthy and tastes good. George taught me that a life well-lived requires effort, and that the effort itself can be joyful!
Joy to all this holiday season!
First published in Camarillo Life Magazine, December issue, 2013]]>