BRIDGEPORT, Conn. — Wendy Hrynewski sat cross-legged on the floor, her eyes closed and her hands resting comfortably on her knees.
She breathed in and straightened her spine, exhaling into relaxation.
“Our spines are nice and tall. Our heart centers are open,” said Atara Stroman, sitting at the front of the darkened room in the lower level of the Black Rock branch of the Bridgeport Public Library. “With each exhale, we begin to release the stresses of the day.”
Welcome to Sunwise Roots Yoga, free 90-minute classes taught throughout the Bridgeport library system each week. Here, city residents gather to practice the ancient art with Stroman, a North Carolina native who has been involved with yoga for more than seven years now.
“We started here in May of last year with classes on Wednesdays and Saturdays and then we added the North branch and Newfield and then the main library downtown,” said Stroman, who has lived in Bridgeport for 16 years.
Stroman’s sister turned her on to yoga by giving her a DVD to try at home. She didn’t like it at first.
“But I stuck with it and began to develop a love for it over time,” she said.
Now she works with private clients and conducts larger events, such as Yoga in the Elements at Seaside Park and moonlight sessions at the smaller beach on Seabright Avenue in Black Rock.
Karen Andre Humphrey of Black Rock was among the eight men and women who joined Stroman at a recent class.
“I wish I had done it sooner,” said Humphrey, who has been in class since August. “It’s hard to find a teacher you really like and I think I’ve found mine.”
Hrynewski of the North End agreed, saying she practices yoga for greater flexibility and strength.
“There’s a spiritual aspect in it that I like,” she said.
Stroman is mindful of each student’s skill level. Once in a pose, students can stick with the basics or move up to a more difficult pose, Hrynewski said.
She also keeps the seasons in mind.
“We’re going to be working on postures that help to keep us as healthy as possible during the winter months,” Stroman told a recent class. “Find power in the present moment.”
For more information on the library’s free programming, visit the website.
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