INDEPENDENCE – Kelly Sherrets McCardle started dabbling in yoga sporadically about 20 years ago. She would “practice for a week, nothing for a month, practice for three weeks, nothing for three weeks. For years, off and on,” she said.
During this time, she worked full-time as a nurse caring for elderly patients. As she labored to meet their needs, she became aware of her own health issues and how aging was impacting her.
“I could see my trajectory, and it was “the Tin Man.” I am not a naturally flexible person. Once you get to a certain age, you can see which way this is all going. I thought, ‘I need to change or I’m not going to be able to move.’”
Then, she hit a hard period in her life that helped her find the motivation to change.
“About 10 years ago, I found myself in a depression. I told my family, ‘give me a couple of months and let’s see if we can turn this around, and if I can’t then we’ll go toward the traditional medical model. I started walking, cleaned up my diet, and started in earnest a very regular yoga practice. Once, sometimes twice a day. That was when I really dedicated myself…and it stuck.”
After about four years, her friends noticed a difference in her physically, mentally, and emotionally. They asked her to teach yoga, but she didn’t see herself as an instructor.
One day, her friends were pestering her about it again, when she said, “Fine, if you can find a place, I’ll do it,” though she didn’t think anyone would be able to find something with enough room. “But then one of the gals piped up, ‘I have a big house, we can do it there.’ So we started, and after a few weeks, I looked at them and noticed that they were lined up and straight and safe and focused…and progressing, and I thought, ‘Good Lord, I’m teaching yoga!’
“I thought, ‘I really like this, and it looks like I’m good at it.’ So, I talked to Ronny Wolf at Wolfie’s. Without him offering me a place to get started, I never would have been able to do this. He was opening his new party room in the back of Wolfie’s. No one was in there in the mornings. He was gracious enough to make an arrangement with me.”
Classes in Quasqueton grew, and she had more and more requests to come teach yoga in Independence. She started looking around and found space for a yoga school in the Professional Services Building at the corner of 1st Street East and 3rd Avenue. On September 20, 2019, she officially launched Sun Yoga with an informative open house.
Dozens of current and potential students came, enjoyed dessert, and heard Kelly share her passion for yoga and its health benefits.
Some of her students shared their experience learning from Kelly. “She teaches good techniques,” said two-year student Maud Bentley. “You’re doing things right and not hurting yourself. She studies this practice, and she’s learned it. She studies, she takes classes, she reads, she practices, it’s important to her.”
For Kelly, yoga is a continuation of her background in health care. She sees Sun Yoga as “a space to explore, nurture, and heal [one’s] inner self, to improve or maintain overall health, and to help [students] manage chronic conditions.”
“I like to assure people that this isn’t circus yoga,” she said, referencing the stereotype of skinny young models with their feet in a pretzel behind their heads. “It’s to continue living the life you have and maintaining strength, balance, and flexibility. Those are the three things you need to keep going. A lot of my students are seniors, and that’s what they want. They just want to keep living the life they already have.”
Her nursing background gives her a strong understanding of anatomy and the medical issues her students are facing so she can tailor yoga to their needs. She is very hands-on in instructing to make sure that her students learn proper technique and avoid injury.
Sun Yoga officially held its first session on Monday, September 23, 2019, and Kelly has big hopes for the coming year. She plans to host beginner’s classes every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday at 9:30 a.m. and 4:15 p.m.; workshops on most Saturdays from 8 to 10 a.m.; open-format classes on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 6:30 to 9:30 a.m. and Saturdays from 6:30 to 8:00 a.m.; and private classes to suit her students’ needs.
One thing she is very excited about is her Cancer Warriors workshops that she plans to do every Thursday at 2 p.m. These sessions will be free of charge to those fighting cancer and their caregivers as a way to help them restore themselves in the midst of their daily battles.
To check out Sun Yoga, contact Kelly at 319-327-1837, find her online at https://www.facebook.com/sunyogaiowa/, or drop by in the back of the Professional Services Building at 309 1st Street East in Independence.