For three years, Sheila Levine has assisted clients in our Mindful Movement classes at InMotion, our "home base" where we teach four weekly classes. This spring, her granddaughter, Mandy Askari, participated in our Mindful Movement classes for her high school senior project. We wanted to know why these women are committed to our Mindful Movement clients.
Sheila: A Champion for Parkinson's
Sheila Levine brings a breadth of experience and passion to YogaReach. She is a seasoned yoga practitioner and an original board member of *Parkinson’s Pals. Levine has also been a volunteer receptionist at InMotion since since its doors opened in 2015. “From the reception desk, I’d watch the Mindful Movement classes. At the time, we had three or four clients who needed extra assistance in class. (YogaReach founder and director) Char was worried that some of them would fall and hurt themselves, so she asked me if I’d like to help.”
Like our instructors, Levine’s assistance is minimal, just enough to give clients confidence in their abilities and provide individual modifications. She has been a regular class volunteer since, and is one of the few current team members who has seen our clients’ progress since classes began at InMotion.
“I stay because I love seeing the clients interact. Everybody is smiling and happy. These clients have made amazing progress.”
When thinking about the immediate benefits of Mindful Movement, Levine points to meditation and the resting pose, svasana (“Sha-VAS-a-NAH”). “The meditation is calming, and the final resting pose provides a peaceful conclusion to the clients’ practice.”
In the long-term, she has seen a significant improvement in the physical, mental and emotional well-being of our participants. “The group support makes all the difference.”
Mandy: A Daughter Giving Back
A senior at Orange High School, Mandy Askari decided to do her senior project with InMotion and YogaReach. Like her grandmother, Askari joined our classes and InMotion because of her father, Arman Askari.
“My dad was diagnosed with Parkinson’s when I was in fourth grade. My family has also been involved with InMotion since it opened. My brother spoke at InMotion when he was in fifth or sixth grade, and my mom, Jamie Askari, is a *Parkinson’s Pals co-founder. I’ve always ‘been in the know’ about this place.”
Mandy has always been interested in fitness and healthy lifestyles, so she wanted to use her time with YogaReach to learn more about Mindful Movement and how it benefits people with Parkinson’s.
“This is the perfect place to see other people with Parkinson’s. I wanted to see how the programs impacted them and compare that with my dad’s progress."
This fall, Mandy heads to Miami University of Ohio, where she’ll study biology on a pre-med track. She hopes to become a plastic surgeon, a career that will merge her interests in medicine and beauty.
If you ask Mandy what she’s learned from observing YogaReach Mindful Movement classes, she doesn't hesitate:
“I’ve learned a lot about the range of abilities people have. When I see the clients do balance poses, I see YOGA – it’s not watered down. These people practice yoga with ease – and it’s inspiring.”
While her dad’s diagnosis may have spurred the Askari and Levine families into action, it’s done much more.
“Our whole family is involved. My grandmother, mom and uncle (Daniel Burkons) are all on InMotion’s board of directors. It’s a family affair… we do everything for each other, and we all are at every event.”
… and it has brought their family closer.
*Parkinson’s Pals was a nonprofit organization formed to raise money for medical research and to educate the population about Parkinson’s disease. This spring, Parkinson’s Pals merged with InMotion to better serve the growing needs of people living with Parkinson’s disease.