By Mary Pritchard,Contributing Writer
CAMBRIDGE – In 1986, Barbara Lyon, feeling like she needed something new and different, attended a yoga class. She recalled that while her teacher was new to teaching and still learning herself, she quickly encouraged Lyon to consider teaching.
“She told me she saw something in me. She said, ‘you need to teach.’ I said, “No, I love someone leading me. I love being a student. After working all day, I like to come to class and forget work, do yoga, and be led through it.”
She would remain with that yoga teacher for 10 years. “Over time, she taught me to teach,” Lyon, owner of Come to Yoga in Cambridge, Massachusetts, said.
“In 1995, I began filling in for her, teaching her classes when needed, and a year later, I had my own classes.” Two years later, her teacher moved to California. Barbara bought the business with another instructor, who ended up leaving the area to open his own school.
“I immediately liked teaching and continued to learn about things that caught my attention. I’m adventurous… I love to bring in interesting things,” she said. “Right now, I’m studying fascia, which is connective tissue, and how to approach incorporating fascia release into yoga classes to release long-held tight spots. Tight spots can be released with deep tissue massage or through a long-held pose. If we keep at it, a little each week, we can release and bring ease to tight spots, and release pain by adding in very fascia focused gentle stretches. Over time, this promotes more flexibility through being aware of how we work our fascia in yoga poses.”
Lyon is currently earning certification as a Yoga Wellness Educator.
“There is always something that hooks me. I’m always studying and learning new things I can bring to my students,” she said. “I communicate during my classes to bring awareness of what is really happening in our bodies with each pose. Students can visualize what’s going on in their body to help them become a partner in whatever the work is and what is happening in their body.” Lyon noted that often a pose using a certain part of the body will be felt, and be helping elsewhere in the body.
Silver Age Yoga
One area of study that has had a significant impact on her instruction is the Silver Age Yoga Program.
“I was probably thinking about turning 60 when I found the program that seemed perfect for learning how to modify poses to make yoga safe and accessible for seniors,” she said. “I finished that in 2011 and completely incorporated it into my yoga practice and classes. It’s been invaluable. It helps me to understand what might be better positions for my students.”
Lyon is committed to finding ways to teach people with various abilities. Many of her students have been with her for more than 17 years. She teaches several levels, from beginner to advanced, for men and women. She offers chair yoga as well as gentle yoga for age 55+ and beginners.
“Silver Age Yoga is always with me in everything I say and everything I see as I observe my aging students. It permeates all of my teaching,” she said. “It’s a way of learning how to see and respond to what I see, and to help my students be able to be successful in their yoga practice, have more stamina, more balance, better sleep. There are many side gifts – they’re not promised – but many people experience side gifts.”
Virtual classes and connection
Lyon, who is currently teaching her classes virtually due to the COVID-19 pandemic, reflected on what her own yoga practice and teaching others mean to her. “It helps me be complete,” she said. “It is restoring to me in so many ways. During the pandemic, it puts so many people ‘into my house’ [virtually]; their smiling faces give a human touch, connection, and community. Through the years, some students have become my best friends. It has enriched my life beyond words.”
For more information, visit www.cometoyoga.com.
Photos/Courtesy of Barbara Lyon