A fresh start with her life was something Kessy Hanson was looking for when she and her two young sons moved to Wayne.
Hanson found that new beginning here, and also found a new interest in yoga that has helped her discover a new love for the activity that she likes to share with others.
Hanson’s first encounter with yoga came 10 years ago when she was living in Missouri. She attended a yoga class at a community college, but didn’t think she enjoyed it that much at first.
“After I graduated from college here a couple of years ago, I had my nights open and was wondering what I could do, and there was a yoga class being taught by Shannon Sweeney at Providence Wellness Center and I thought I’d give it another try,” she said.
It didn’t take long for her to reconnect with yoga and find a new love and appreciation for it.
“It just looked more interesting than the first time I’d tried it and I just fell in love with it,” she said. “It’s so powerful and strong and there’s always something to learn in how to better yourself.”
Hanson found an opportunity to better herself in Wayne after needing a fresh start and moving from her old home town of Merriman in northwest Nebraska.
“My mom had died a couple of years after I’d had Kingston, and it was hard to be where she had lived and not have her there,” she said. “I just felt as if I was drowning and needed to move forward with my life, and we packed up and moved as far east as we could go and that’s when we landed here in Wayne.”
Hanson and her two sons, Kingston and Rye, found a home here and after finishing off her criminal justice degree at Wayne State, she found a new passion for yoga and was soon teaching classes to people of all experience levels, from beginners to advanced.
“It’s so powerful and strong, and there’s always something to learn in how to better yourself,” she said. “Once you start practicing yoga, so many other things fall in line, like making time for yourself and meditating and breathing. There’s just less stress and you feel more calm and that was something that I needed and I just fell in love with it.”
Not being content with starting at the beginning, Hanson said she dove into yoga right away.
“I’m not someone who starts at the easy levels. It was just sink or swim and I was wanting to learn how to do headstands and handstands, but you needed to learn the control.”
She was able to learn poses from watching videos on YouTube or Instagram, and she took a liking to Sweeney’s class at the wellness center, progressing and learning enough to be asked by Sweeney to teach her classes after she moved away.
“It was pretty quick for me,” Hanson said. “I was taking the class with Shannon and she had recently got married, and her husband was offered a job in Oklahoma and she asked me if I was interested in taking over the class for her and teaching it. She saw that I had the drive and passion for it and needed to keep pushing myself, so she guided me for a month and then turned me loose.”
Hanson can be seen at the Farmers Market in the courthouse square in season with her mat and a group of people, taking them through a variety of poses and exercises, and she enjoys the atmosphere that the outdoor class provides.
“We have a group that would come and start with basic poses and work up to some partner poses and balancing power poses,” she said. “The number of people who show up really varies, but I hope with college back in session we’ll see more people come and take part.”
Hanson said there is no pressure to participate, and no need to go out and by yoga pants or even a mat.
“Just show up,” she said. “All you need is a willingness to learn. I’ve had people show up in jeans shorts and tank tops and they want to learn and they do wonderul.”
Yoga is a low-impact, gentle workout of the body, and you can do as much as you want to start, whether it’s a quick 10-minute workout or a longer one of 45-60 minutes.
“Whether it’s just the gentle stretching or the sun salutations or even meditating, it’s more than just the movements,” she said. “It’s also the breathing and calming of the mind and calming of the body. You can do 5-10 minutes just to do some stretching, or if you want to get more of a workout you can go for 45-60 minutes and really try to push your body.”
The breathing and meditation aspects are also helpful, she added.
“When you’re doing yoga or any other exercise, you need to make sure you’re breathing properly and it’s important with yoga when you’re talking about moving with the breath,” she said. “That breath helps you move and when you take that into meditation, it helps to calm your mind and your body and just helps with de-stressting and getting rid of the clutter and tension and anxieties that have built up and accumulated throughout the day.”
Hanson said first-timers shouldn’t worry about whether or not they match the teacher’s poses, because each individual’s journey into the exercise is different.
“It’s OK to be nervous, but just focus on yourself,” she said. “If you can’t do a warrior pose like the teacher, that’s OK because it’s your personal journey into your yoga abilities. Everybody has to start somewhere, and your body has to get used to these poses and be able to stretch and get stronger.”
It’s much like trying out any new activity — you have to start at the beginning.
“You don’t go to the gym and think you’ll bench press 200 pounds the first time. You have to start with the lighter weights and work your way up,” she said. “You also don’t sign up for a 5K and expect to run it the next day. The same goes with yoga, and your body warms up to it and eventually you can do more and it feels amazing when you’re finally able to do a pose.”