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Sunday, May 20, 2018
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Yoga eases aging for Pasco seniors

NEW PORT RICHEY - Millie Pagani, 76, has always been active and involved in physical activities. Growing up in the Bronx, N.Y., during The Great Depression, she and her friends would invent games and play various sports using makeshift equipment. After buying her first television set in the 1950s, Pagani became a fan of The Jack LaLanne Show, which promoted exercise and proper nutrition.
Ten years ago, she retired and thought her need to exercise was finished. However, her body changed and Pagani didn't like what she saw.
“I started walking like an old person, bent over and shuffling my feet,” said Pagani, who suffers from chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and emphysema. “I saw the writing on the wall that, unless I join a gym or some other workout program, I'm going to become like them.”
Her sister suggested Pagani join her at the Trinity Yoga Studio, located on Old County Road 54, just west of Little Road. According to Pagani, the results were immediate.
“I had better balance, circulation and posture,” she said. “The flexibility of my ankles improved and I was walking better. I felt I grew an inch because my spine had straightened. Yoga has helped me with the longevity and the quality of my life.”
Christina Lowden, who co-founded the studio in October 2008, sees the many advantages yoga has over gyms and fitness centers.
“In a gym, there are many distractions, such as weights crashing and loud music,” Lowden said. “A yoga class is an experience in which the world disappears. We create a space for the quiet within ourselves.”
Starting with just a couple students per class, the studio grew by word of mouth. Two expansions and more than 500 students later, the studio offers 31 classes per week. Lowden and new co-owner Janel Norton, along with four paid instructors, provide classes ranging from gentle to power yoga. Each variety offers three levels, allowing beginning to advanced students to thrive. They also offer classes to Pasco County public school teachers at reduced rates.
However, the studio's other goal is to market to men.
“We try to demystify yoga and show men that it is cool and a great benefit for them,” Norton said. “It's special appeal is that it increases flexibility and strength.”
For Pagani, being the oldest student in every class is no barrier.
“I'm a high-energy person,” she said. “With yoga, we are taught to slow down, breathe deeply, stay calm and take our mind off stressful situations. Plus, I'm in the best physical shape of my adult life. Yoga is like WD-40, because it lubricates the joints.”
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