By Emily J. Weitz
There are the yoga people you can spot a mile away, with their smoothie in hand and joints that seem to bend in both directions. But Jolie Parcher, owner of Mandala Yoga in Amagansett Square, has had those yogis covered for years. It’s the non-yogis, the fire fighters and construction workers, that she really wants to reach. Because you don’t have to like to chant words in Sanskrit – or even know what Sanskrit is – to feel the benefits of yoga.
Mandala Yoga is expanding this year, and Ms. Parcher has been navigating the red tape required of any building expansion. This means she’s become a regular face in offices that she had previously avoided. And when she introduced herself to the fire marshal, and the head of the building department, they all echoed a similar sentiment: they’d heard good things about yoga, but when they went to check out a class (if they got that far) everybody looked so bendy.
“I asked the fire marshal what it would take to get him to my studio,” said Ms. Parcher, “and he said he would need it to be a slow pace without any pressure to get somewhere, but a class that would help with aches.”
Yoga has remarkable healing qualities when it comes to pain, stiffness, and stress. All of these issues are common in the jobs that make up the backbone of this community: construction workers, crossing guards, police officers, people working at town hall.
“These are people who have to deal with other people’s stresses all day long,” said Ms. Parcher. “They’re on their feet all day, and can be so stressed out. Who relieves them of that chaos that’s thrown on them all day?”
That’s the essence of this class: to support the people who support the community.
People come to the yoga mat for all sorts of different reasons. Some people want to be able to do a handstand. Others want a practice that will complement another workout regimen. Some want to learn to breathe and relax, others need an energy boost. But according to Ms. Parcher, yoga is essentially about balance and wellbeing.
“In this class I am aiming to work with people who feel that things are out of balance, whether it’s their back or their mind,” she said. “We will do simple stretches, not complicated.”
This class is not about becoming a master yogi. There won’t be any chanting, no Sanskrit words. She’ll call the postures by their English names. The sequence will be slow and clear. The purpose will be to alleviate pain, specifically in the back and joints. Ms. Parcher plans to arm students with knowledge they’ll take home with them.
“I’ll give them specific tools that they can take home to move out the stress and chaos of the mind,” she said.
After a series of stretches, she will guide them through a relaxation, using her arsenal of essential oils, like lavender, tangerine, and Roman chamomile to help release any lingering stress. As a certified aroma therapist, Ms. Parcher doesn’t just use the essential oils to make the room smell nice. She’ll harness the healing benefits of the oils to enhance the effects of the yoga class.
For Ms. Parcher, this class is a dream come true. She laughs that the fact that she is willing to venture out of her house at 7:15 p.m. in January is a testament to her commitment.
“I came to yoga because I wanted to help with being able to care for myself and feel good in the world,” she said. “It’s simple: I wanted to get away from feeling achy, to do something that cares for me so I don’t end up sick.”
That’s what she wants to share with the community. She wants to let the rest of it fall away and get down to the heart of the matter: to help people feel happy and balanced. To give them the tools they need to become better at caring for themselves and their loves ones.
“This feels like the most important thing I can do,” said Ms. Parcher. “To get yoga to those who need it. People just need support with feeling good and relaxed, and then they bring that back out into the world.”
Yoga 101 will take place Tuesday nights at 7:15 p.m. at Mandala Yoga in Amagansett. The class is one hour, and if you catch the current special, you can buy a five-class card for $50, or $10 a class. Check out www.mandalayoga.com for more information.