You’ll find a downward-facing dog pose included in most yoga classes, but it’s a popular puppy called Pablo helping residents find calm at The Verge.
Sharon Dean has been teaching yoga to residents at The Verge, the new retirement village overlooking Burleigh Golf Course, for the past couple of months and said her chihuahua played his part in easing the newcomer’s nerves.
“Pablo has been a great addition to the yoga classes. It’s hard to take yourself seriously when this cute little dude is hanging around. He helps everyone feel less self-conscious,” Sharon said.
Pablo’s not the only popular one, with Village Manager Carolyn Verner reporting Sharon’s yoga classes had been a hit with The Verge’s residents.
“The residents absolutely love the yoga classes. We have a very fit and healthy group. There are a lot of residents who love to get out and go for a walk. The yoga class is a great alternative exercise for them to improve their balance – and it’s an excellent option for those who can’t get out and about so easily,” she said.
“We have a wonderful wellness centre here, with a café and a beautiful gym that all our residents love. We offer Tai Chi classes, musical exercises classes and yoga. We also have a partnership with Club Active, who come in and do fitness assessments for our residents and show them how to use the gym equipment safely. They give the residents a program that they can follow, and just about everyone has taken up that opportunity.”
The Verge’s apartment layout and popular common spaces have helped to foster a strong sense of community.
“The residents become part of the family,” Carolyn said. “All of the staff seem to adopt the residents as another grandparent, while their neighbours become good friends.
“Having friends just down the hallway can really make a big difference and stop social isolation. A lot of residents will go and knock on their neighbours’ doors and say, ‘I’m off to the yoga class or happy hour up at the terraces – do you want to come?’ They love having that sense of community and the choice to get involved or do what they want.”
Sharon’s parents, Pauline and Maurice, were among the first residents to move into The Verge. It was a significant change from their former life surrounded by gardens and chickens in Anglesea, on the Great Ocean Road. But after a year separated from their daughter by border closures, they decided to pack up and make a move to Queensland.
“It is very different, but they’re really happy at The Verge and have settled in,” Sharon said.
“Pablo has weekly sleepovers with my parents, and everyone makes such a fuss over him. It’s lovely to be part of the community here at The Verge. It is such a friendly, vibrant community.”
“The group I teach have been really open-minded. Only one person has done yoga before, but they have all embraced it. I’ve taught more advanced classes, but I actually find the residents at The Verge to be more inspiring.
“If there are six people present, it’s like teaching six different classes. I modify the program constantly, and it is amazing to see how they take it on with their physical challenges. For example, we have one lady who does half the class in a chair. She can still do all the breathing exercises and stretch – but in a chair rather than getting up and down a lot.
“I’m constantly reminding everyone to listen to their bodies, so they know what their limits are. I’ve also thought a lot about what makes it yoga – not just a stretching class. So we focus a lot on breathing with the body moments and how to focus if you notice yourself getting caught up with your thoughts.”
Sharon said she also found her yoga class to be a spot of calm in her week.
“I love the classes because there is so much that is stressful going on in the world right now. It’s so nice to take that hour to connect and breathe and take a break from it all.”
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