Although Blanca Brown was reluctant to attend Wednesday night’s yoga class after a long day at work, she said the hour of posing, relaxing and laughing inside the red barn at was well worth it.
“Compared to what I felt like an hour ago, I’m completely changed,” said Brown, as she laughed after listing her excuses to not come to the class. “I’m going to go get me a coffee and start the day over!”
Brown was one of four yoga students who attended the free class, which has been offered every Monday and Wednesday since late July.
As a trustee for the , Brown helped bring the yoga class to the church after plans to offer the Zumba class at the church fell through.
Marianne West, a Lemon Grove resident and a full-time yoga instructor, was thrilled to offer free lessons for the community.
“I believe in community, and I really wanted to teach closer to home,” West said. “It’s neat to reach people who otherwise wouldn’t go to your studio.”
Most of West’s students are beginners who wanted to try yoga.
“Because of the economic crunch that we’re in right now, not many people can afford to join a gym,” said yoga student Valerie Burcks.
Valerie Burcks said she and her sister, Shirley Burcks, couldn’t pass up the opportunity to try yoga for free.
“I really, really like it,” Valerie Burcks said. “My body feels better, and I fell better after I leave here. I’m not as exhausted, I’m not as tired, I feel relaxed, the stress is gone.”
Shirley Burcks said yoga has helped her sleep better.
“I just could never get comfortable,” she said. “I’d always have things on my mind.”
Both sisters praised West as an instructor and said she helps beginners by explaining the poses.
“If you can’t do it, she doesn’t make you feel like you’re not doing it right,” Shirley Burcks said. “She modifies positions.”
West, who teaches Hatha, hormone, kids and laughter yoga, has been a yoga instructor for two years and was previously a small-business owner. West said she was first introduced to yoga when she was pregnant with her first child, who is now almost 30 years old.
“It’s so much more fun to be a yoga teacher,” she said. “It’s something I always wanted to do.”
As the founder of Yoga For All People, West teaches yoga at a variety of places, including the San Diego French-American School, Yoga and Meditation Center and El Cajon Branch Library. Since June, West has also taught children’s yoga at the . The final free lesson of a 10-week series will be held Aug. 23. at 1 p.m.
During the free Monday and Wednesday sessions, West teaches Hatha yoga, which she said addresses the whole body. West explained movements help the digestive, endocrine, muscular, nervous, respiratory and skeletal systems.
West said she enjoys teaching students of all levels so that they can practice at home to better their health.
“Yoga is like brushing teeth, but for your body,” she said. “If you brush your teeth once a week, it feels good when you brush them, but it’s not going to do much for your oral health. You need to do something everyday. You need to move your body; you need to get rid of toxins.”
Brown hopes the class will be offered at a Lemon Grove school once school begins, so parents and teachers can take advantage of the free lessons, too. On average, six students attend each class, West added.
“I certainly hope that more people will take advantage of it,” Brown said.
Classes take place from 6 to 7 p.m. on Mondays and Wednesdays at First Baptist Church of Lemon Grove, 2910 Main St.