By Erika Webb
Women are society's nurturers. They tend to give so much there is nothing left but debilitating fatigue and dissatisfaction.
Saturday, March 15, Lyonia Environmental Center in Deltona hosted a day-long event for women to give back to themselves.
To get things started, yoga instructor Saundra Emerson, from Bamboo Art Center for Sustainable Living in DeLeon Springs, led a gentle yoga workshop.
Along with loosening up, in just an hour, 13 women and one man were treated to a comprehensive lesson on the key components to experiencing more mobility and joy in everyday life.
Ms. Emerson called for attention to be drawn inward, away from the nurturing role and the to-do lists.
"You need time to yourself to let go of that and come into center," Ms. Emerson said.
How often do we think about the way we stand? Are our feet firmly planted?
Yoga draws attention to the minute details we tend to forget about as we rush from one obligation to the next.
"There is a connection we as human beings have with the earth," Ms. Emerson explained.
She asked the class to focus on the bottoms of their feet, solidly standing while lifting the toes. It does feel different.
It also makes a difference.
Sloppy posture, shallow breathing and jarring movements -- all resulting from inattention to the true self -- wreak havoc on the internal organs, spine, bones, muscles and nerves, and the other nerves.
People spend a lot of time on their "last nerve" due to perpetual stress, lack of down time and too much external stimulation all of which lead straight to pain, annoyance and plain old bad moods.
"We all have to deal with life," Ms. Emerson said. "Yoga can always help us with that because when I get on the mat it's just me ... I can let go of all of the stuff and people I have to take care of."
Food, water and air are the body's real essentials, she explained.
Air leads the way.
"Come into your breath," she said. "You can learn to breathe deeper and slower or even faster to raise energy."
While having the group members sit cross legged or in any variation thereof that suited the individual, Ms. Emerson explained many lower back issues stem from tight hips. The hips open up when the knees are extended to the sides, alleviating pressure in the lower back.
She took the class through the basics, starting with the six movements of the spine, and said anyone can do yoga.
At the end of the class Ms. Emerson answered questions.
One group member said her hip is "locked into position" and asked if any stretches will help.
Sitting on the floor cross-legged or with one leg straight out and the other pulled toward the body with the knee out to the side the hip "will eventually open up."
"That's a gentle way to start working with it," Ms. Emerson explained.
Another class member was frustrated because she went to a yoga class at a local gym that "just about killed me," she said.
Ms. Emerson said to look for beginner or gentle classes to start and suggested in any class: "It's OK to sit some things out."
Fresh, pure and natural are the way to approach food and water, which in addition to air, provide life-force energy, Ms. Emerson advised.
"Eat something fresh every day," she said. "Coke is poison. Sugar is the number one worst thing for you out there. You don't need it. It's not doing anything for you or your body. It's giving you mood swings and giving you empty calories."
Organic pears, she said, are easy to find and have as much to offer nutritionally as apples do.
Drink spring water whenever possible and avoid plastic bottles, she advised.
"I don't know why they all end up in the ocean, the cruise ships can't be throwing them all in there," she said chuckling.
Quite a bit of advice was dispensed in an hour and the group appeared relaxed, rejuvenated and ready to participate in the four remaining activities, all related to self-care.
"If we don't give love to ourselves we don't have anything to give to others and our love turns into need," Ms. Emerson said.
Lyonia volunteer Shirley Ailes said she thoroughly enjoyed the workshop. She does yoga at home and takes a class at least once a week.
"It's great physically and mentally," Ms. Ailes said. "Like (Ms. Emerson) said, anyone can do it. In my opinion, everyone should at least try it."
Dianne Jess, from DeBary, joined the 9 a.m. guided hike before the yoga class. She planned to stay at Lyonia for most of the day.
"It's Women's History Month, honoring women," she said, explaining her reason for taking part in the event.
"I looked at the schedule and the things being covered are all things I love...nature, self-care, eating," Ms. Jess said.
"How to Stop Emotional Eating Habits" was presented by Karin Weiri-Kolle of Insights Counseling Center in Orange City.
Ms. Weiri-Kolle spoke about ways to resolve underlying issues that lead to emotional eating habits.
A workshop, "Stand Up and Impress," focused on business etiquette and professional self-presentation, was led by Aida Plontke, a Central Florida Business Women organizer and founder of poiseandposture.com.
A second guided hike was at 2 p.m. Environmental specialists led two leisurely tours that day through the scrub habitat of Lyonia Preserve.
"We saw scrub jays and identified a lot of trees," Ms. Jess said. "I got a very good understanding of the Florida scrub. We take it for granted."
Joining her morning group of hikers were two scrub jay families.
"They were very personable. I thought they were gonna talk to us," she said laughing.
Ms. Jess was equally fascinated by an area that appeared to be "carved out" where Florida rosemary grew. She'd never seen the shrub which is not related to the herb rosemary.
"It's not edible," she said, "and it's almost like a tree but very beautiful."
The day ended with tips on transitioning from one career to another offered by "Queen of Green" Sandra Williams, a green energy consultant with Energy Alternatives LLC of DeLand.
Free raffles also were conducted throughout the day, featuring bath and body gift baskets by Spice of Life Herbs in DeLand.
"By showing up, I'm thanking the county," Ms. Jess said. "It's so nice that they provided this."
Something always is going on at Lyonia Environmental Center, which "offers a unique insight into Volusia County's fragile ecosystems through hands-on displays and computer-based learning modules," according to Volusia County spokeswoman Pat Kuehn.
Lyonia is part of the Deltona Regional Library complex at 2150 Eustace Ave. Learn about other upcoming programs at lyoniapreserve.com.