Yoga instructor with Parkinson’s is helping people with disability

Demonstrating yoga exercises led by Renee Le Verrier are Laurie Gonzalez

There’s a new yoga teacher in town, and she specializes in movement for people with disabilities. Renee Le Verrier, 54, has Parkinson’s disease and literally wrote the book on yoga for movement disorders.

“Yoga can build strength, increase flexibility and help with balance for everyone,” said the Oak Harbor resident. “With illness or injury, it becomes that much more essential. It can counter the weakening, stiffness and imbalance of disease.”

Le Verrier teaches yoga classes designed for those with Parkinson’s, MS, lupus, fibromyalgia or stroke recovery. Blending modifications with the use of physical supports, the classes convene on Mondays from 1:30 to 2:45 p.m. at the Lotus Tea Bar & Studio in Oak Harbor.

The initial class is free; subsequent classes are $8 each.

“It’s definitely not a get-rich-quick scheme,” she said. She donates most proceeds to disease-research organizations. Her husband works as a computer engineer.

Le Verrier moved to Whidbey Island in September from the East Coast, along with her husband and 13-year-old son.

She said she came mainly for the weather.

“With Parkinson’s, exercise is important for keeping symptoms at bay, and the snow out East kept me inside,” she said. “I like all four seasons, and Whidbey seems ideal.”

Before relocating here, she taught in a Parkinson’s program at Massachusetts General Hospital. In 2012 she published “Yoga for Movement Disorders,” a 129-page spiral-bound manual that one clinical reviewer called “a clear, illustrated text.”

Also good for some movement disorders is boxing, Le Verrier said.

“You get good hand-eye coordination, cross-body training and core-strength building,” she said. “But you sweat more.”

Le Verrier will present a talk on yoga for movement disorders 6 p.m. Tuesday, Dec. 1 at the Freeland library and again 2 p.m. Friday, Dec. 4 at the Oak Harbor library.

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