Above: Dr. Naima Lewis helps a client in class with hands-on adjustments. Photos courtesy of Higher Dynamics.
After a car accident in 2017 left Naima Lewis unable to stand or walk, she turned to her own yoga-based teachings to get better. She asked herself “where is my center?” and meditated to send healing messages to the areas and systems she had injured.
“You must put your attention into breath and meditation,” the 75-year old Lewis said. “Get past the discomfort [and instead] fuel the life force.” This results in “a deep sense of empowerment, [an understanding that] I’m going to be OK.”
As Founder and Director of HY-DY Inc., Lewis is passionate about yoga classes as a form of healing. “The beauty of yoga is not only engaging the gross system of the body but about engaging subtle body energy,” she said. “[This] helps you to heal on a deeper level … and to flush out damage.”
HY-DY stands for Higher Dynamic Health Discoveries. Lewis, who has a doctorate in education and a master’s degree in dance, started the non-profit program in 2002 as a way to bring prevention and health programs to underserved populations. She offers CDs and DVDs on such topics as guided meditation, spirituality and weight loss.
Lewis offers HY-DY yoga classes in Decatur, Atlanta and Stockbridge. In these sessions, she focuses on a “comprehensive approach to yoga,” incorporating yoga poses and postures, meditation and breathwork.
She takes particular pride in a portion of her program called Shaping Shades of Grey, called “Shades” for short, that addresses the health needs of people aged 55 to 75. Shades offers age-appropriate exercises such as yoga, Zumba Gold, aerobic dance and water aerobics and workouts that use light weights.
Lewis says that our choices affect how we age. “I really began to look deeper in my community, to look at life’s challenges and barriers, in peers and colleagues, [and ask myself] why was I feeling older? This aging process starts in the 50s — that’s when a lot of depreciable aging changes begin to occur and occur rapidly,” she said.
“And younger seniors — those in the 50 to 60 age range — are at “an ideal time and place,” she said, “before arthritis sets in and before you adapt [the mentality of] ‘I can’t’ or ‘That’s too hard.’”
Lewis tells her students that aging comes in all forms: “internally, job insecurities, sexual, personal injuries, everything gets full blown — [there is a] higher rate of heart attack, diabetes. You can shape and sculpt that aging process. You can begin to have an impact on health, longevity and happiness as you grow older.”
There is a highly selective teacher training program that is part of HY-DY’s Yoga Teacher Training School, founded in 2014. The three-month, 200-hour course approved through Yoga Alliance, has a rigorous application and selection process. The next teacher training program begins in July 2018.
Louise Quattlebaum finished HYer Dynamic’s yoga teacher training course last year. She said that HY-DY challenged her and gave her the knowledge and skills to enhance her personal life physically, emotionally and spiritually. “I look forward to helping others discover mobility, peace and health in their own lives as well,” she added.
Lewis also believes music and movement play a vital role in health.
“I’m on a mission to keep seniors moving,” she said. “Dance speaks to the spirit and the soul. The joy of interaction with space and music can get lost very quickly.”
For more information on: class times, location and pricing; teacher training application details; as well as Lewis’ CDs, DVDs and other resource materials, visit hydyinc.org.
Yoga Day, officially known as the International Day of Yoga, is June 21. Many yoga and tai chi classes are available throughout the north metro Atlanta area. Check your local hospital fitness centers, YMCAs, gyms and county and city recreation departments to see what’s available. Don’t forget the senior centers in your area.
As always, be sure to check with your physician or other healthcare professional before starting any new exercise regimen.