Las Vegas Sun

July 27, 2017

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Hospital-sponsored yoga class helps students relax after holidays


Heather Cory

Joy Walker takes advantage of a special holiday yoga class at the Paseo Verde Library.

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Carol Cohen leans back in meditation during a special holiday yoga class at the Paseo Verde Library.

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Iris Corley stretches out before a special holiday yoga class at the Paseo Verde Library.

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Contact St. Rose Dominican Hospitals at or 616-4901, or Debra Symons at 271-2965.

As soft music played in the background, Debra Symons led her class through the rhythmic movements of yoga at the Paseo Verde Library Dec. 29.

Many of the two dozen in attendance grasped a strand of 13 holy beads, called mala beads, which Symons passed out as a holiday gift for her students.

Since the height of the holidays had just passed and many of those in attendance had taken a break, the session was intended to aid in relaxation. Holding mala beads while meditating helps that relaxation along, Symons said.

The mala consists of nine central holy beads, she explained. She used ones forged 60 years ago by her parents for rosaries.

The other four are mother of pearl beads, which, according to the Sanskrit beliefs, bring long life and protect against sorrow, she said.

A doctor with St. Rose hospitals, Symons teaches yoga classes at St. Rose three days each week and a roving class on Mondays.

The extra step of bringing in herbs, teas or a gift such as mala beads is common for Symons, several students said, and is the reason they choose to keep coming back.

"It's highly spiritual," Iris Corley said. "I feel so comfortable here."

Corley drives in from Boulder City each week to take the class, which she has been attending for about a year, she said.

The exercise and spiritual aspect also has many health benefits, several members said. With many of the attendees older than 50 years old, the class has kept arthritis symptoms at bay and helped them stay spry as age crept in, they said.

"If it wasn't for this, I wouldn't be able to get out of bed in the morning," Joy Walker said.

Though Symons' Tuesday through Thursday classes have a permanent meeting spot through St. Rose, her Monday classes do not. They currently meet at a private elementary school.

"We're fighting cookie crumbs on the floor every week," one Monday attendee said with a laugh.

They'd like to find a new, more permanent home in the future. Until then, they're happy to put up with crumbs on the floor, if that's what it takes to ensure they can attend the class each week, they said.

Frances Vanderploeg can be reached at 990-2660 or [email protected].

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