I grew up in Farmington; I married William Gagnon, a Detroit East Sider, fifty-six years ago. I taught junior-high English and social studies for nine years, until I became a stay-at-home mom in 1970. By 1973 I had two babies and a toddler, and babysitting was free at the YWCA in Warren, where my YAGD friend, Nancy Gordon was teaching. Nancy had introduced me to yoga and would have me occasionally substitute for her; the two of us would attend YAGD meetings together, including the first ten YAGD yoga retreats!
I also took yoga classes from Gloria Bray at our parish, St. Rene in Sterling Heights. When Gloria moved, I took over teaching yoga at St. Rene. One Sunday after Mass, the pastor said: “I wasn’t going to say anything to you, but a parishioner asked me how I can allow Egyptian devil worship at the church?” We laughed about it; however, back then many people thought that the idea of yoga was weird and even dangerous.
My daughter volunteered me to teach a yoga session at her third-grade camp. The teacher had me come in and demonstrate what I would be doing, and the kids loved it.
Years later a student in Madison Heights told me that her 17-year-old son questioned her on how she could sit for an hour looking at her belly button; that same student credited the shoulder stand for her becoming pregnant, and her son was nineteen when his brother was born. So much for contemplating one’s navel, lol!
For over thirty-five years I taught yoga for the City of Troy Parks and Recreation, at Bemis Elementary School, and, at the Troy Community Center until March 2020, when the pandemic shut the program down.
Since then, for over two years now, my friend and I have been doing yoga together two to three times a week on FaceTime. Which brings me to my favorite pose, the “down dog.” Now that I am 82, I find it the best way to get up from the mat to standing.
Over the years I’ve taught classes on stages, back stage, in media centers, child care rooms (with suspicious dark spots on the carpeting), and next to an oil-painting class (“Avoid taking deep breaths”). I taught a seven-week winter session at the YMCA in Center Line. With a broken furnace, we had only oven heat. At the end of each session, we put on our coats, hats, and gloves for Final Relaxation.
Yoga has been an integral part of our family for almost fifty years. Our daughter Sarah used yoga when she was pregnant. Bill, our son, recently took a yoga class from his brother-in-law, and our younger daughter, Mary, does yoga poses and meditations every morning.
On a final note, when our son was in kindergarten, the students were given the assignment of drawing a family picture. Billy took crayons and drew each member of our family; however, I was upside down. He, his sister, and father were upright. When I questioned why I was upside down, the little guy said, “You’re doing your yoga!”