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Geri Valentine offers weekly Yoga and Chair Yoga classes at the Thankful Room.

Written by WHRL Board Member, Ora Aselton

Being “from away,” I find it fascinating to ask my fellow transplants what brought them to Maine. But it’s not often that the answer is “Sheep!” It was sheep for Geri Valentine, though. She moved here from Minnesota in 1979 for exactly that reason. As a hand-spinner, she had a deep interest in wool. On a farm in southern Maine, she quickly realized that she did not want to raise sheep. However, shearing and converting wool into yarn became a passion.

She and her partner, Pete Hudson, followed his Maine roots to Steuben, where they worked together for 20 years. In 1995, circumstances brought them to South Addison to share a property with a close friend, Donna Kausen. Totally off the grid, the compound known as Bear’s Den is self-sufficient without sacrificing comfort. Geri calls it “rustic elegance”. They share a vegetable garden and the meat from sheep raised on Big Nash, Nash, and Flat Islands. Geri and Donna create beautiful art from the bounty that nature provides. Geri transforms her wool into stunning clothing designs in magnificent colors, while Donna creates handsome wooden bowls and serving pieces from local wood. And, during the holiday season, Geri fashions wreaths from foraged natural materials. Their pieces are for sale at Darthia Farm in Gouldsboro and Island Artisans in Bar Harbor.

Creativity, a healthy diet, and a simple life shared with her best friends combine to provide deep contentment. In addition, Geri credits yoga for her sense of peace and well-being. In 1980, her sister, who had been traditionally trained, introduced her to the practice. Having just quit smoking, Geri found that yoga helped. In 1991, the Maine Seacoast Mission sponsored her formal training in Lenox, MA, and she returned to begin a class at Weald Bethel in Cherryfield.

Geri is certified in both Yin and Kripalu Yoga, forms of Hatha Yoga—which she has been offering as an ongoing program at WHRL. As an alternative, this fall, from October 5th through November 2nd, and again from November 9th trough December 7th, she will lead Chair Yoga, a modified version of Hatha, in two multi-week sessions.

Chair Yoga is a therapeutic approach to yoga from a seated position. Concentrating on alignment and breathing, movement targets the neck, shoulders, legs, and torso while using the chair as support. Geri emphasizes that it is slow and easy. Each participant progresses at an individual pace with plenty of time for questions and attention to personal body issues. The purpose is to move and lubricate the joints…  As Geri says, “Motion is lotion!” … the result is comfort and flexibility. She finds that her body craves her daily yoga workout and is not content without it.  Her goal is to help you find that contentment in your own body.

If you have ever thought of yoga as too strenuous for your age or ability level, give this adaptation a try… it’s designed for you! (Who knows? You may be relaxed enough to be counting sheep yourself!!)

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