March Spotlight – Karen Walker


Karen WalkerHi, I am Karen Walker. I have been attending Sarah’s yoga class for over 5 years. I thought that yoga was twisting your body into a pretzel so I would not be a good candidate. Sarah convinced me that my perception was completely wrong and to try it. Or as Sarah would say “No worries”.  Within a few months, I noticed improvement in my balance, strength, and flexibility.

My husband Terry and I have two adult children and three grandchildren. My leisure activities are physical as well as social and involve our family and friends. I enjoy cross country skiing, snowshoeing, crew (or rowing) in an 8 person boat, kayaking, hiking, and backpacking. I am a recently retired Occupational Therapist having been employed for 31 years as program director and faculty at Grand Rapids Community College Occupational Therapy Assistant program. I volunteer at Family Promise, Ability Weavers, Wittenbach Wege Nature Center, and Ada Congregational Church. Family Promise is an interfaith hospitality network that provides emergency shelter and solutions for families facing a housing crisis. Ability Weaver is a store in Lowell that sells woven products made by weavers with special needs. Wittenbach Wege Nature Center of Lowell schools provides hands-on nature programs. I participate in the classes for 3-6-year-olds called Tiny Trekkers.

As I age balance, strength, and flexibility are important for my health. I appreciate Sarah’s attention and response to our needs as she leads our yoga classes.

February Spotlight – Jeanne Smit

Jeanne SmitHi…my name is Jeanne Smit and I have been coming to Sarah’s class for just over a year now, with my husband Ed. I enjoy gardening, sewing, and fitness, which has always been a big part of my life. I have been doing some form of exercising since I was a teenager.

I have four children, who are very fitness-minded also, and eight grandchildren who I hope will find their fitness important also.  I always knew that you need to keep your body moving in some way in order to maintain a good, healthy life.

‘Keep moving’ is my motto. I do know I’m not the most flexible person in the yoga class, but I know it’s very good for my mobility.  It’s so true, as you age, your body just doesn’t move like it used to….and I cannot believe I fall into that category!!    My body isn’t the same one as when I was 20, 30, 40, or even 50!

I believe that Yoga is very good for the body and mind, and I enjoy the feeling after the class is over.

January Spotlight – Kathy Walsh

Kathy with Husband and DogsI consider myself to be an active person.  I garden, horseback ride and do the care of my horse, love to walk with and work with my dogs, and play with my grandkids. I also have my “pups” who are certified therapy dogs who visit hospitals, schools, and assisted living facilities. They are amazing. Sometimes Sammy also visits the yoga studio.

About 3 years ago, I noticed I was stiff at times, less flexible and was losing some strength.  That’s when I decided to try yoga.  It only took a few months to notice my energy and stamina with on the rise!  I was less achy and sleeping better.  And now I surprise myself with how much my balance and strength have improved!  At 66, I feel better than I did ten years ago.  And I have a friend going to yoga, too!  We have such a good time in our classes with Sarah!

October Spotlight – Lisa White

Lisa and BryanI have never been much of an athlete, but I have always tried to stay active.  Over the years, I’ve done aerobics, weightlifting, step aerobics, Pilates, and attended my first yoga class about 10 years ago.  I really hate running and jumping and cardio in general, so yoga really appealed to me.  I knew this was something I could benefit from and enjoy doing as I age.  I consider The Hammock to be my yoga home and I appreciate the different styles of each of the instructors here and the friends I’ve made.  I also enjoy trying new venues and especially love doing yoga in the great outdoors!

I have worked at Spectrum Health for 13 years as Administrative Assistant to the directors in Safety & Experience.  We support Patient Relations, Ethics, Pastoral Care, Language Services, Advance Care Planning, Patient Experience, Employee Safety, Patient Safety, and Medication Safety and our Patient and Family Advisory Councils.  Every day is interesting!  I often find myself using the skills I’ve learned in yoga during my day – remembering to breathe when I’m stressed, being aware of my posture (and my shoulders creeping up to my ears) and taking time to do some stretching poses throughout the day.

My favorite people are my husband Bryan, our kids, Bryan (Holly), Jenna (Michael), and Brandon (Mikayla) and our sweet little grandson, Jax.  I love the National Parks and really wanted to see them with my family, so last year we took our first Family National Park Trip to Acadia in Maine.  We had so much fun that now we’re planning to go to Yellowstone next year.  What a great way to make memories and see our beautiful country!

September Spotlight – Morgan Jarema

Morgan JaremaI’ve been practicing at the Hammock for about four (five?) years now, though I remember being introduced to yoga at about age 5 in Ann Arbor through my hippie mother. We took classes together for a while in my late 20s from Carolyn Hines in Grand Rapids when I was diagnosed with MS and developed balance challenges.

My husband and I moved to the area in 2004, and I joined the Hammock as a way to reduce/counteract/cope with stress at my job, and a way to celebrate quitting smoking (yay… finally!) and to resume treating my body with honor attention and kindness.

For me, the breathing techniques have been helpful in everything from staff meetings to kidney stones to accidentally reading comments anywhere online, and the physical benefits of strength, balance and flexibility are more and more important as I age.

I convinced my husband to come with me to class about two years ago, and he too has seen the value of paying attention to breath and to being bendy-er. He’s the guy with the airplane on the studio walls.

I’m very grateful to Sarah and Liz for their expertise and their ability to roll with my dorky sense of humor, and it’s a pleasure every week to practice with all of you. Also, I would absolutely not freak out if anyone else took the corner spot. Absolute Zen here.

John and I have no children — that we know of … ha! — and spend most of our not-working time traveling, on tubes or a pontoon on our stretch of the Flat River, and plotting places to fly for those hundred-dollar hamburgers. We have two indoor cats, Wookie and Sansa, and one outdoor adoptee, Parker.

August Spotlight – Kathy Gingerich

Kathy Gingrich with GrandkidsLife is a Journey. At age 25, I started working out with Richard Simmons and “Let’s Get Physical” with Olivia Newton-John. I have done aerobics, Jazzercise, a little Zumba, spinning, and powerlifting. My journey with yoga started 3 ½ years ago at The Hammock.  I wish I would have found Sarah 10 years ago. Sarah is the best-her yoga knowledge is unending. Sarah is a very caring person and tries to take care of the needs of all her yoga students.

My career journey as an x-ray technologist is ending on 12/31/19. I have been taking x-rays since 1975. Bob and I will be married for 42 years in September. Our retirement journey will be spending more time with our 6 grandchildren – Kendylle and Leland (Arizona); Lucas, Ella, and Taylor (Wisconsin); and Landyn (Lowell).  Bob and I want to take road trips all over the U.S.

My wish is to advocate yoga to everyone I know. It is a mind, body and soul journey that everyone needs to take. I look forward to working out with my yoga buddies. Everyone one of us is on a different journey. Our journey is to keep flexible, strong core, balance, breathe, relax, and enjoy each day.

July Spotlight: Rachel Swift

Rachel and Travis

Here is a little about myself. I was born and raised in Lowell and moved back from Cincinnati in 2013. My husband’s name is Travis, we got married in Sept of 2017 and are now expecting our 1st baby in September of this year. We live south of town here in Lowell, Michigan and have chickens and 10 or so hives of bees. Hobbies include cooking, gardening, fishing and making wine. I love being outside, so really any time the weather is decent, I’m doing something around the house outside. I also love traveling and my goal is to visit all the continents (2 more to go!). With a baby on the way, I don’t see much foreign travel in the near future, but our plan is to explore this amazing state we live in.

I work at Dematic as a business analyst supporting our SAP software. Having to handle everyone’s emergencies on a daily basis is really draining and yoga is my outlet to regroup myself and let go of any anxiety I’m holding onto. I can honestly say I notice a change in my anxiety levels if I take a week off from yoga. Probably my favorite part of yoga is the balancing poses. It really helps me focus and be present in the moment. What I love about attending yoga at the Hammock is the variety in the teaching styles. It keeps things interesting and encourages me to attend more than one class throughout the week.

June Spotlight: Jim Last

Jim Last on MotorcycleJim is a frequent and regular student at the Hammock. His wife, Lita, introduced him to yoga about two years ago, and now he cannot imagine life without it.

Yoga has enabled him to do many more things he used to do when he was younger. Jim is a veritable fountain of youth! He often ends a yoga session exclaiming, “Rock and Roll!”

Jim enjoys riding motorcycles and playing with anything that has to with internal combustion.  Jim brings a spark to the classes.




May Spotlight: Lynda Austin

Lynda AustinHi! I’m Lynda Austin and I have been a member of the Hammock Yoga Studio since it met for sessions at Cherry Creek Elementary back in 2008 when Sarah was an instructor through Lowell Community Education. I was reluctant to get into yoga as I thought it not much of a physical workout. But with the urging of Marcia Kapolka; a fitness friend from a Toning with Weights class, I tried the yoga experience.

How wrong I was in my thinking that yoga was an ineffective exercise regimen! As I struggled to hold my first Warrior pose for the requisite 30 seconds, I was certain my arms weighed at least 10 pounds apiece! I soon realized that yoga is kind of a sneak attack exercise practice. To hold a yoga pose demands that all of your concentration and body be attuned to the muscles required to hold your arms in this way, your legs in that way, your core helping stabilize and center your efforts. I could no longer let my mind drift to tasks on my to-do list and run through the motions in a yoga class. It took almost a whole year of a regular yoga practice to even learn to breathe properly – as Sarah says “There is power in the breath”. When I learned to breathe with my poses, I became more attuned to slight nuances in body alignment that helped enrich the pose and my whole practice. I now know the power of the breath and have passed it on to my Storytime kids in my job at the public library.

Yoga is a time just for myself. I can let the stress and worry of everyday life melt away and focus solely on myself and how I am feeling. I think only of the breath, the opposing movement of arms, legs, feet, hands, and head and of balance. I can tailor my movements to how I am feeling in the moment because the movement is just for me, not the rest of the class or the instructor or anyone else. It is my hour of that day where I can put ME front and center with no regrets, apologies or shame. I hope to engage in a regular yoga practice until a very old age. I have made some wonderful friends in this studio. Yoga makes me happy…a peaceful happiness. Thank you.

I am married to Dave, who I met on a spring break sailing trip while we were both students at Michigan State University. We have two sons, Eric and Kyle, who are married to a couple of lovely women, Kimi and Rachael. We have two granddaughters, Sofia (10) and Ruby (1) who are the loves of our lives! Dave and I have lived in Lowell for 25 years. I work part-time at the Englehardt Branch of Kent District Library surrounded by things I enjoy immensely – great books, interesting library patrons and fun-loving Toddler Time kids!

March Spotlight: Tammy Johnson

Tammy Johnson Beautiful DayI get inspired by beautiful nature scenery and unique architecture. When I look at these types of visuals, my creativity perks up and I feel positive, energized, yet peaceful. It is because of the beauty, the colors, the shapes, the patterns. I love seeing these types of elements all around me.

I am a creative soul; it is a big part of who I am. When I was growing up, I loved writing poetry; now I love exploring new art techniques and the process of simply creating something. It fills a thirst inside me, it brings energy, and it gives mindful rest. During the day I am an art director at a publishing company working on book cover design.

My good friend Marge told me about the yoga classes at The Hammock, so I came because of her. I have been practicing yoga for about 9 years now and plan to always practice yoga for strength, balance, and flexibility. My body really needs these.

I love the atmosphere at The Hammock: the personalities of the teachers and their styles of teaching yoga; the room and lighting. Lovely people practice yoga. I have made friends there and the classes are fun. The classes offered at a yoga student’s swimming pool are such a treat every summer.

Simply go to a class to experience it at your own pace. Know that each person is there for themselves and their own workout journey; there is no competition. Breathing is a primary part of yoga and the teachers help you learn this. It is very important to how your body works in yoga.

More about Tammy

You are a new addition to the crayon box…what color would you be and why? I think I would be a teal color. Teal likes to enjoy life, laugh in the face of danger, and stay interested in learning.

Describe your color to someone who is blind. Refreshing, curious, thriving.

The last three years I have been creating mandalas. The circular shape, patterns, and colors that you can fill Mandalas with really appeal to me for some reason. I’ve created them with markers, color pencils, and paints on paper and furniture. Lately, I have been teaching how to create mandalas with paint dots on rocks and other objects. I love what the dots create as a whole and every mandala is beautiful.

On a personal side, my hubby, Steve and I are blessed to have our son, Brett in 9th grade, and our older son Aaron, who lives and works in Kalamazoo, MI. We also include our calico cat, Butterscotch, in the family mix.