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Ron Riggs, a yoga instructor, plays his singing bowl during guided relaxation at the end of a yoga session in Pleasant Hill.

Two yoga sessions are held in Pleasant Hill in Heritage Hall on Church Dr., which are available for the general public. 

The term "yoga" in the Western world often denotes a modern form of Hatha yoga as exercise, consisting largely of the postures and poses called asanas. Yoga is a timeless, pragmatic science evolved over thousands of years dealing with the physical, moral, mental and spiritual well-being of humans. 

Heritage Hall Yoga explores not only muscles and ligaments but also the fluid fascial network that lives between each cell in our bodies. Participants are taught “mindfully” to promote better awareness of their bodies, their breath and the many physical sensations of how their bodies are responding to movement.

In Pleasant Hill, the leaders have slightly different approaches to yoga. Ron Riggs leads the Tuesday class starting at 8:30 a.m. Awareness of bone alignment and even, smooth breathing are qualities emphasized continually. They use props (blankets, blocks, calf stretchers, straps, bolsters, etc.) so that each posture can be held long enough to experience the needed stretch. They are taught how to move their bodies carefully and breathe properly.  

Riggs graduated from Mount Union College, Alliance, OH with a double major in biology and English. He then taught English at a high school outside Akron. 

He and his wife, Diana, served for three years with the United Church of Christ Board for World Ministries in Aleppo, Syria. Diana was a music teacher and Ron taught biology at Aleppo College. On the road to Damascus, like Paul, Ron heard the call to ministry. Shortly after his return to the United States, he attended Eden Theological Seminary and then served congregations in Ohio and West Virginia.

Soon after Ron and Diana moved to Little Rock, AR, in the 1980s, he was introduced to Hatha yoga and knew he’d found his real calling. He began studying Iyengar-style Hatha yoga in 1984.

After attending the Iyengar Convention at Harvard University in 1987, he and a partner opened the Yoga Studio of Little Rock, which he ran until the move to Pleasant Hill in 2016. His emphasis is on body alignment, therapeutic stretching, cardiovascular development, breathing and relaxation. The postures are based upon principles as taught by B.K.S. Iyengar, an internationally known Indian Yoga practioner. 

Hatha Yoga seeks to reunite the sun (Ha) and the receptive principle of the moon (Tha) through various postures (asanas). In all the postures, normal breathing is emphasized to help keep the brain quiet and passive so the body/mind can be observed and educated. 

Vickie Nevius leads the Thursday yoga classes starting at 8 a.m. with more emphasis on stress relief and relaxation. She also uses blocks and straps to aid with basic stretch and flexibility. As a graduate of the College at Miami, OH, with a master’s degree in special education from the University of Cincinnati, she balanced a 30-year career in special education with raising six children. 

Practicing yoga since a 16-year-old, she became trained in integrative yoga therapy at an Ashram in Pennsylvania. She used some of the special relaxation techniques with special education classes, theater warm-ups for the actors in school plays and after-school classes. 

Nevius and her Disciples of Christ pastor husband, Phil, moved to Pleasant Hill in 2015. Nevius has developed a form of chair yoga for those who have difficulty standing. Uplands Village residents delight in participating in chair dancing to music with some yoga moves when she substitutes in the Flex & Stretch SilverSneakers sessions.

These Heritage Hall Yoga sessions are free and open to the public. Contact Riggs at 931-277-5200 or Nevius at 931-277-5904 for directions to Heritage Hall or more information.

This week in Pleasant Hill:

Tuesday and Thursday — Grab Thrift Shop at 9547 Hwy. 70 W. Regular store hours are 10 a.m.-4 p.m. and Saturday from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Due to theft problems, donations to The Grab need to be left inside during business hours. Call the manager at 931-287-3018 if you have large items or a big load. Reminder: when schools are closed for inclement weather, the Grab will be closed also.

Wednesday, Nov. 27, 2 p.m. — Documentary on Pilgrims in Room 4, PH Community Church, UCC Main St. and Church Dr. in Pleasant Hill.

Wednesdays, 6 p.m. — Bible study and prayer at the Pleasant Hill Baptist Mission at 39 Browntown Rd. near Main St.

Thursdays, 2-4 p.m. — Fair Trade Room open in PH Community Church. Coffee, tea, chocolate, SERRV crafts from around the world. Supports co-ops and crafters with a “fair” price for their goods.

Saturday, Nov. 30, 10 a.m.-4 p.m. — $2 bag Sale at Grab Thrift Shop at 9547 Sparta Hwy. (70 W). Call 287-3018 for information.

Sunday, Dec. 1, 6 p.m. — Advent Carol Sing at PH Community Church, 67 Church Dr.

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