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AICS is running a new yoga class starting this fall in Wrangell.

Michael Brown is a clinician with Alaska Island Community Services, or AICS.

He’s also a program director with the Primary and Behavioral Health Grant, which is funding the new yoga class.

Logo courtesy of AICS

“The grant is focused on combining behavioral health services along with primary care health services. Often, the two are kept apart and the idea of the grant is to work on the whole person—so not only the physical aspects but also the emotional as well.”

The grant has a supplemental focus on healthy lifestyles. That includes healthy eating and cooking, exercise, and other healthful behaviors.

Those factors can play a major part in making other difficulties a person is experiencing…a little bit easier to deal with.

“Well oftentimes when people are experiencing emotional distress or some crisis or depression, they tend to let their physical care take a backseat. That just compounds then the emotional problems they’re experiencing because the two are intimately related. And so, by bringing the two together…”

The person is seen, and helped, as a whole.

That wholeness is the focus of this new yoga class.

Brown, who will be teaching the class, says yoga is a safe and stimulating way to engage both body and mind in a healthy activity.

“Yoga, the word yoga, means to yoke. What are you yoking? You’re yoking the mind and the body. In most Western cultures, we tend to separate the two. We don’t tend to put the two together. But in yoga, because you’re focusing on body positions and breathing at the same time, there is this joining—this yoking—of the mind and the body. And when you do that, it tends to put the person in a very relaxed position.”

Brown says that doing just an hour and a half of yoga one day per week can be beneficial to a person’s daily life as a whole.

“They tend to focus on where they are right then and there in the room and day to day concerns tend to fall away. So it’s a great way of reducing stress as well as keeping your body fit in a very low-impact, low-stress way.”

It’s meant for ages teen to mature adult. Brown says it may not be appropriate for very young children. But aside from that, there are no age restrictions.

While there is sometimes a stereotype of ladies doing yoga, Brown says it’s absolutely not exclusive to women.

“It’s for anyone. In fact, if you look at the history, the most historically famous yogis have been men. It actually was kind of a guy thing originally but in western cultures, women seemed to take it over. I guess because women seem to be more flexible.”

But, Brown says, a person definitely does not have to be flexible to join his class. People of all ability and agility levels are encouraged to try it out.

“You know, that I think is the largest stereotype—unless you can twist yourself into a pretzel, yoga isn’t for you. But that’s not really what it’s about. It’s about moving into positions to the limit that your body will allow. For some people that’s quite extreme and for other people it’s quite limited.”

Brown says yoga is a good way for non-flexible people to loosen up tight muscles and for flexible people to hone their skills.

The class will be held weekly in the elementary school.

“It is, if you go down First Street to the office, if you look to your left, you’ll see an alleyway down to a breezeway. If you go into that door—into the breezeway—and then take a right, you’ll find us.”

There is no sign-up for the class and no cost to attend. Brown says he encourages anyone interested to stop by on a Wednesday evening and give this body-mind activity a thoughtful try.

The class begins Wednesday, November 13th from 6-7:30pm at the elementary school. It will be ongoing at the same time every Wednesday.

For more information, contact AICS at 874-2373.