They come in socks and bare feet. And sometimes, in jewels. The Gatesworth’s yoga class brings all types. “I wear a nylon suit with stripes down the sides,” says Antoinette Carlie. “It’s however you feel about yourself.” Carlie has been taking part in Barbara Berson’s yoga class since January. The sessions were recommended to her by longtime friends, also Gatesworth residents, who felt she would enjoy the gentle exercise. But Carlie is no stranger to physical activity. She walks a mile a day and works out on the machines. She says her husband “never stops,” although he has drawn the line at yoga. “Between swimming, walking and the workout room, he hasn’t any time!” Carlie says, adding that yoga might not be a guy thing here; there is only one man in the class of about 20.
The Carlies moved into their Gatesworth apartment from their home in Chesterfield a year ago, after Antoinette had two hip replacements and heart surgery following a heart attack. “Our house was very large, and it was proving to be too much. I was going downhill,” she remembers. But now, thanks to the vibrant retirement community and the wealth of activities it offers, she says she has a new lease on life. Gleefully, Carlie rattles off the different classes she takes: yoga on Monday, balance and breathing on Tuesday, tai chi on Thursday. She says the yoga is done in chairs, “But, boy, it works you out!” Berson, who is a nurse and certified health education specialist, started teaching yoga 15 years ago after her mother had a stroke.
“I adapted many of the yoga postures for sitting. We don’t do downward-facing dog,’’ she laughs. “But the poses we do work really well.” (She has adapted the 12-position Sun Salutation sequence for seated practitioners.) In addition, she incorporates singing into the classes because she says it is beneficial for aging vocal cords, and it encourages telling bad jokes because she says laughter is “good for everything.” Carlie still has heart-related balance issues, and can be fearful at times, but yoga has helped her ‘find her place in space.’ “I feel better about my movement,” she says, “and if ever I’m unsure, I stop and think for a minute.”
It’s not just her yoga practice that has made her feel young again (she says she thinks of herself as 65, not 85), but other enrichment opportunities at The Gatesworth as well—the massages and movies, the Scrabble and poker. She goes to the beauty shop regularly, entertains friends in her apartment and recently has taken up painting. Because of her unsteadiness, Carlie uses a walker or a cane when she goes outside. “I walk and then I rest,” she explains. “I sit on a bench in those beautiful grounds and do my stretches, just like Barbara taught me.”
The Gatesworth, a residential community for seniors located at One McKnight Place, is known for outstanding service and enrichment activities, including chair yoga. For more information, call 314.993.0111 or visit thegatesworth.com.
Pictured: Antoinette Carlie at chair yoga class
Photos: TOKY Branding + Design
Cover design by Allie Bronsky