yoga classesChurches serve as community centers

August 14, 2013 1:21 pm  By Johanna Willett Arizona Daily Star

“A calm mind, closed eyes, and some inner soul-searching all come with the territory in a church.

The tables are stacked and moved off the floor of the Friendship Hall of the Sunrise Chapel to accommodate the colorful mats and participants of the Joyful Hearts Yoga class.

But this isn’t Sunday prayer. It’s a yoga class.

Every week, Joyful Hearts Yoga brings yoga classes to locations across Tucson, including three churches such as Sunrise Chapel.

Often built in the middle of neighborhoods, churches are ideal spots for community meetings, classes and get-togethers. The community benefits, but so does the church, which gets people through the doors, and income from — usually modest — rental fees.

“If it wasn’t for these churches, I couldn’t bring those communities yoga,” said Tim Howell, 54, the owner and instructor of Joyful Hearts Yoga. “They’re affordable … I’ve brought a lot of people into yoga who are still doing yoga and benefiting.”

Howell’s class at Sunrise Chapel happens in a room across the patio from the main worship center. Tables are stacked around the edges of the room, and colorful yoga mats stripe the floor. Only a lone plate hanging on the wall, decorated with the Ten Commandments, identifies this room as part of a church.

As the Sunrise Chapel has grown, it has done so with the community in mind, said Pastor Nathan Gladish.

The church, 8421 E. Wrightstown Road, is within walking distance for many of the yoga class regulars.

“The location is very convenient for me,” Linda Taylor, 58. “I’m from Chicago so I don’t know my way around.”
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