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Tuesday, May 22, 2018
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Yoga instructor, 75, leads unique class in Apollo Beach

APOLLO BEACH - If you've never tried yoga before, there's an affordable class available right in our own backyard. Calvary Lutheran Church, 5309 U.S. 41 N., Apollo Beach, hosts a weekly yoga class taught by longtime instructor Janie Ratcliffe on Mondays and Thursdays from 10 to 11 a.m. Ratcliffe practices Hatha yoga, which calls for gentle, basic movements; slow-paced stretching; poses with some simple breathing exercises and seated meditation. Her class is a place to learn beginners' poses, relaxation techniques and to become comfortable with yoga. What makes her class unique is the way she teaches. During the hour-long class, Ratcliffe verbally describes every pose in detail, which helps create an ease of concentration.
The practice was born out of necessity, when she had a blind student in her class six years ago. "As a (former registered) nurse, you find a way to help people," she said. "I thought if I can describe the poses to her, she will be able to participate." So she did, and the woman stayed in her class until moving away six years later. Since that time she also has had deaf and hearing-impaired people who appreciate her gentle voice and attention to detail, she said. Ratcliffe, 75, grew up in Charlotte, N.C., where she earned a degree as a registered nurse from the Presbyterian Hospital School of Nursing in 1970. She discovered yoga through a friend 25 years ago and found the practice helpful in relieving body stress and keeping it in balance. "You need to have some relaxation time," Ratcliffe said. "It's important to take care of your body, mind and spirit." During a yoga class she attended in Sun City Center, the instructor Katherine Trainor, who became her mentor, asked her to substitute for her. One class became two, and before she knew it Ratcliffe was calling Calvary Lutheran Church to see if there was availability of space for a class. She began teaching one there in 1992 and 10 years later, her class is still going and growing. Many snowbirds frequent her class, with some attending since the beginning. Roger Zweig, 82, and his wife, Ginny, enjoy Ratcliffe's class and her method of instruction. He feels yoga has helped him tremendously. "I used to complain about a pain in my neck 'til I discovered it was my wife," he said, jokingly. "Since going to this class, I feel so much better." The cost is $4 per session. All proceeds go to the church for its public outreach programs. For more information, go to www.calvarylutheranchurch.com or call (813) 645-1305.

Lorianne De Loreto is a freelance writer who can be reached at [email protected]

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