Friday, August 14, 2020     Volume: 21, Issue: 24

Santa Maria Sun / Sports Lead

The following article was posted on October 8th, 2008, in the Santa Maria Sun - Volume 9, Issue 30 [ Submit a Story ]
The following articles were printed from Santa Maria Sun [] - Volume 9, Issue 30

Yoga brings relaxation to Santa Maria

This Adult Ed class is open to all, and many locals have joined up


On a recent Tuesday night in Santa Maria, about 40 men and women lay peacefully on the floor of a darkened room, breathing in and out. Vicki Forman walked among the prone figures, checking up on them, making sure they were okay, making sure they were relaxed.

Quite a crowd:
Over the years, this yoga class has grown from around 20 people, to more than 40. Vicki Forman credits word-of-mouth advertising.
That’s Forman’s job. She’s a yoga instructor, entrusted with the wellbeing of her students—at least while they’re in her class. Those students are members of the community, and they range in age from people in their 20s to Carl and Alice Bryan, a married couple in their 80s.

All of them are getting a super deal. Forman is an experienced yoga instructor, and the class is free. Absolutely free. It’s part of the Allan Hancock College Community Education program, listed in the Spectrum catalogue as “Yoga Stretch,” a class for beginners and anyone who wants to learn how to relax through yoga.

“A lot of people come in and they have never taken a yoga class before,” Forman said, adding that her approach is “very basic” and “very safe.”

The Bryans, Alice and Carl, can testify to that. They’re longtime participants in Forman’s classes. They started out with her Pilates class a few years ago.

“I’m much more flexible now,” Alice said.

“We feel great,” Carl added.

The Bryans said that they fell in love with yoga because of Forman. She’s always showing them modifications, Carl explained, so that they can do any pose. Though Alice said she could do anything the rest of the class can do, Carl has to be careful with his knees.

That’s fine with Forman, who said that the range of experience in her class is a large one. There is a core group of six or seven people who have been going to her class for years, she said, and they’ve probably surpassed the rest of the class. Yet they keep coming back. Diane Espinosa is one of them.

Lead by example:
Vicki Forman has been teaching yoga and Pilates for 20 years. In addition to teaching in Santa Maria, she also runs classes for the Lompoc Parks and Recreation Department.
“I call it my salvation, it’s my space and time,” said Espinosa, who has two daughters, ages 4 and 9, at home.

“With kids, I think what yoga does is help keep me centered,” she said.

Espinosa has been attending Forman’s class for two years. In that time, the class has grown, she said. Forman is convinced that word-of-mouth is the reason. Lately, Forman said, people have been telling their friends about it and bringing them in to try it out.

“I’m seeing groups of people from churches, groups of people who work together, and whole neighborhoods,” she said.

This current class is the most diverse that she’s ever taught, Forman said. From doctors to farm workers, everyone is represented. She’s even noticed more men starting to attend—and that’s no small feat for a yoga class.

“Some of the people in my class can’t speak English, and they still come and they love it,” Forman said. “More than any other class I’ve taught, people [here] are so appreciative.”

The class also has also become a family affair. There’s the Bryans, and Forman’s own mother, Delores Hagopian. Jim and Arlene Peterson, another married couple, are regular attendees, Forman said, as are aunt and niece Silvia Barajas and Guadalupe Valencia. Best friends Michelle Cooper and Linda Thompson have been coming to class for several years, and were joined during the summer session by Cooper’s daughter.

“I want to thank Hancock,” Forman said, “because they are reaching out to the community with these classes, and it works because our class really represents the community.”


Yoga at any age:
Alice and Carl Bryan have both reported increased flexibility and energy since starting yoga a few years ago. Plus, Alice said she sleeps like a rock after her yoga class.
  INFOBOX: Yoga time

Vicki Forman’s Yoga Stretch class meets every Tuesday and Thursday at the Minami Center in Santa Maria from 7:15 to 8:45 p.m. Forman is taking new students any time during the semester—just visit the Community Education building on Hancock’s Santa Maria campus and sign up. The class is free. Bring a mat and wear comfortable clothes.

Sports Editor Sarah E. Thien stretches. Contact her at

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