Finding balance: Yoga classes offered in Gates Fire Hall

May, 2014 Posted in Your Health

By Mary Owen

Yoga has come to Gates, thanks to instructor Jahn Hoover.

“Yoga is great for the relief of stress,” said Hoover, who also owns and operates Into The Wild Equine Adventures with his wife, Sheila. “We now experience ‘fight or flight’ types of stress 50 to 70 times daily because of the complexity of our lives in this culture. One hundred years ago we might have experienced the fight or flight stress twice a week. Now life is different.

“When we undergo this stress, our brain begins to release excess cortisol, which keeps us in a stress state and also produces belly fat,” he added. “What we have learned recently in yoga practice is that deep breathing for only 30 to 45 seconds causes the lower loves of the lungs to release serotonin, which essentially eats the cortisol and normalizes the levels. Breathing is the most important part of yoga practice.”

Hoover, 61, shares his expertise through his newest venture, Down Ward Dog Yoga. Classes are 9 a.m. on Tuesdays and Thursdays and 6:30 p.m. Wednesdays at the Gates Fire Hall. Each session is preceded by a half-hour of weight training. Cost is on a sliding scale, between $10 and $15 based on student’s ability to pay, Hoover said.

“I have always had an interest in fitness and health,” Hoover said. “Yoga appealed to me because not only does it improve fitness, this practice can improve health conditions and calm the mind.”

Tom Peters, who attends two sessions each week, loves the benefits yoga has given him.

“I’m a 64-year-old man and yoga has helped me tremendously with balance, strength and loosening tense muscles and joints,” he said.

New to the area, Julie Pennick is a mother of four who lives just outside of Gates.

“Finding a yoga class so close to home is convenient,” Pennick said. “The facility is gorgeous. Our night yoga class is lit with fairy lights. The class itself is appropriate for all abilities, utilizing the great combination of intensity and relaxation.”

Pennick also likes meeting other like-minded people in the community.

Debi Bateman also loves meeting “some nice folks with which to share the experience.”

“I began a year ago at age 57, having never attempted yoga and admittedly with some preconceived reservations,” Bateman said. “I found it easy to follow the instructions and steadily gain strength and balance while shedding a few pounds, not a bad trade off in my book.”

Bateman cues in on Rocky Top, “an inviting anchor through the wall of windows,” at each yoga session.

“We leave each time relaxed and feeling that it was the best practice yet,” she said. “Jahn has been blessed with the gifts of teaching and encouragement.”

Dave Shelton wanted a way to keep in shape that was closer than going to a gym in Salem. New to yoga, he said classes give him a workout that keeps him limber and fit.

“It’s harder than I thought it would be, but I’m getting more limber,” Shelton said. “Yoga has something for everybody who wants to be flexible, have better balance, and be able to move around freely. ”

Susan Fahey started yoga because of feeling tired. “I need something in my life that would help the old body feel more alive,” said the 67-year-old Mill City resident. “Yoga has done that for me.”

Meaning “union” in Sanskrit, Hoover said yoga brings unique experiences to each participant.

“All bodies are different, with different levels of flexibility and strength,” he said. “We only look to improve a little at a time.

“For myself, I have noticed that I no longer require massage, chiropractic and acupuncture alignment treatments,” he said. “Because of yoga, those are now optional. Through proper body alignment, I am able to repair my own body aches and pains myself, which was a surprise benefit of the yoga practice.”

To learn more about Down Ward Dog Yoga classes, call Hoover at 503-586-8072 or e-mail him at

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