A traditional practice in cultures of the East met with the history of the Pennsylvania Germans of the West as Doug Hayward’s Hatha yoga class spread out on the lawn against a backdrop of the Gruber Wagon Works and other treasures of the Berks County Heritage Center this summer.
According to the Yoga Journal, ‘“Hatha” yoga refers to a set of physical exercises (… or postures) …designed to align your skin, muscles, and bones. The postures are also designed to open the many channels of the body—especially the main channel, the spine—so that energy can flow freely.’
Although Hayward considers his Sunday classes, held near the Red Bridge Road parking area of the Heritage Center through September, as an introduction to yoga, the events draw an average of 40 people every week. People of all ages, ranging from teens to seniors, gathered at Hayward’s class one Sunday this summer with yoga mats and water bottles, despite the warnings of extreme heat predicted for the day.
Jean Davis of Fleetwood talked about the yoga classes that she attended regularly at Body Works as well as through Hayward.
“I love it. It has helped my flexibility tremendously. It is a very good stress reducer,” said Davis.
Hayward affirmed yoga’s calming effects by encouraging participants to “let the unruly mind take a seat in the passenger seat or the back seat.”
“Too much sugar, caffeine and processed foods, little to no exercise, and stress can slow the body’s natural detox function to a sluggish pace,” states Yoga Journal. Hayward joked during the class that the yoga session would be “like taking a bath on the inside of your body.”
Hayward of Muhlenberg Township provided a down-to-earth, easy to understand, and sometimes humorous yoga class for everyone in attendance. He was inspired by an article 20 years ago that touted the benefits of yoga and has since received a Yoga Alliance certification and serves as a fitness instructor for Penn State University.
Due to Hayward’s love of teaching yoga and his opinion that “yoga has become fairly expensive and not everyone can afford classes. This gives them the opportunity to experience a yoga class”, the Sunday classes are offered at no charge through September. He stated that his preference is to “have a class where I don’t have to collect money, not even donations.”
The Sunday classes are offered at no charge through September, from 11 a.m. to noon near the Red Bridge Road parking area of the Berks County Heritage Center.