Finding Your Serenity in Stressful Times

By Zack Howard, Guest Writer
Women practicing yoga.

Yoga classes include poses to improve balance, such as the one shown above.

By Zack Howard, Guest Writer

In these uncertain times, when work can be stressful, disquieting, or downright upsetting, taking an hour on Thursday evenings to work out job- and life-induced twists can provide a welcome element of serenity.

Every Thursday evening, beginning at 5:15 p.m., a group of experienced and novice yoga practitioners are led through a gentle yoga practice in the café room of Building 549. The instructor, Joan Twigg of Tuscarora Yoga, leads the group from its daily activities to being present in the yoga practice of mindful movement and breath.

Yoga can benefit people of any age or fitness level, according to Twigg. One member of the class commented, “I like the fact that yoga, as taught by Joan, is something that can accommodate all age groups and people with physical limitations.”

With humor, enthusiasm, and patience, Twigg has led classes for groups as diverse as grade school students, returning warriors, and working adults, all with varying levels of experience.

Releasing the Day’s Tension

Twigg creates a positive and safe experience with her continuous reminder that the class “is not a competition with your neighbor or yourself.”  She encourages students to appreciate each other and their environment.

A typical class progresses from the first few minutes of “being present with your breath” through setting a focus for the day’s practice, followed by transitioning to poses and movements that help release muscles and nerves tensed and trapped by daily activities. The session finishes with a guided relaxation segment, enabling students to turn their focus inward, with concentration on the breath.

Twigg brings unique elements to her classes, including an inspirational reading related to current events and opportunities to (re)connect with your inner warrior, child, or even your toes. “The unexpected opportunities provided in yoga class are often the most worthwhile,” Twigg said. “I am honored to be able to share my love of yoga with others and to help individuals of all ages and abilities discover the many benefits that yoga offers them.”

Instructor Has Wide Range of Experience

A longtime seeker of knowledge of holistic health practices, Twigg began her practice of yoga in 1996. After the first class, she knew that this was a path she wanted to pursue, and she became a certified instructor in 1999. In addition to the classes at NCI at Frederick, Twigg teaches at a local church as well as in the yoga medical study (RESTORE) for treating back pain at the Defense and Veterans Center for Integrative Pain Management at Walter Reed. She is certified in Integrative Restoration as well as in “Let Your Yoga Dance” and Five Element Yoga.

Zack Howard is a staff scientist, Cancer and Inflammation Program, Laboratory of Molecular Immunoregulation, Cellular Immunology section.

Yoga Classes at NCI at Frederick

Thursdays, 5:15–6:15 p.m.
Building 549, Café Room
NCI Campus at Frederick

No registration required; $12 donation suggested
For more information, e-mail the instructor, Joan Twigg,

New students: Wear loose, comfortable clothing. Please bring a yoga mat and a blanket. If you need to borrow a mat, please e-mail in advance to arrange for loaners.  Studio etiquette: Leave your shoes outside the room before entering.