By Diane Siegfried
Debbie Wolski has owned the Village Yoga Center in Modesto’s McHenry Village for seven years. To reach to her upstairs studio, one must climb a stairway with walls that Debbie (a talented muralist) has painted to create the feeling of passing through a zen garden. This sets the stage for her intimate yoga studio.
The walls of her studio have murals that are painted in a style reminiscent of well-known artist Thomas Kinkade, “Painter of Light.” This warm friendly light-filled atmosphere is symbolic to Debbie because she feels it is important to “help people find the light within” which she does through Yoga.
For twenty years, Wolski taught aerobic classes at all the major health clubs in Modesto. She noticed that her students’ favorite part of the session was the Yoga cool down because they felt it was so empowering and they wanted more. Because of this, Wolski developed her Yoga class and placed it on her class schedule. When one of the clubs wanted her to remove the Yoga class because they felt Yoga was a religion, Debbie knew it was time to open her own studio and create a better environment for the practice of Yoga. It also allowed her to do a lot less driving around from club to club. “Yoga is not a formal religion,” says Wolski, “The practice of Yoga is about stillness and a way to build up stamina for sitting in mediation. Meditation is the ultimate aim of Yoga. This allows you to completely connect with The Source or God and to find that stillness. The beautiful thing about Yoga is that it encompasses all religions and the belief that there is something bigger than us, that people are here for a reason and have a purpose. It will enhance your religion because there is a spirituality to Yoga that crosses over all the religions. Yoga is more about spirituality than specific religious beliefs.”
When asked what drew her to Yoga Debbie explained, “What drew me to Yoga was having scoliosis. In the late 60’s and 70’s friends of mine introduced me to Yoga, and it relieved my back issues, at least the pain. The more I practiced Yoga the better my back felt, so I simply continued, and I have actually minimized the lateral curvature of my spine. I have been practicing now for 37 years. My doctor diagnosed me when I was 21. He said by the time I was thirty, I would be riddled with arthritis and possibly confined to a wheelchair. I decided, no, he does not know how much Yoga helps. So I kept doing it. The twists are really the most beneficial. In scoliosis the spine is curved laterally, so one side is hugely over stretched and the other side is too relaxed. It becomes thin and atrophies. Twisting creates a balance by stretching the area that is under stretched and relaxing the area that is over stretched.” Yoga also helps other back problems by strengthening the back and abdominal muscles which are essential to maintaining a healthy back. Over one million Americans use yoga to keep their backs healthy and to ease or relieve back pain. Yoga helps with alignment of the spine, flexibility and balance. Yogis say, “You’re only as old as your spine.” There are many other health challenges that yoga can help, like fibromyalgia, high blood pressure, and bone density.
Debbie also has a Kid’s Yoga class at the center. Teaching children yoga she feels gives them a huge head start in life by helping them learn to get in touch with their bodies, let go of stress, how to breathe and meditate. This teaches kids discipline and sharpens their ability to concentrate which helps them function better in school and at home. Wolski has helped children with ADD and ADHD. Learning yoga with its mind/body connection
aids these children in learning to focus, concentrate and to control their impulsivity, fidgeting and restless behavior.
There are several other special focus classes taught at the center. One of the classes concentrates on back care. Most clients that start this class have lost mobility and strength in their back muscles. Debbie uses folding chairs to start with until the students get the idea of how to stay straight and well aligned in the poses. She attempts to make it easy for her clients to feel successful. The ninety minute heart health class which is called Cardio Combo on the schedule, consists of a half an hour of low impact aerobics designed specifically for the heart, laughter (“which is the best medicine”), pilates, yoga and a special five minute kundalini yoga exercise taught to her by Swami G which is the equivalent to running a mile. There is also a Yoga teacher training class that is registered
with the Yoga Alliance. Special Modesto Junior College yoga classes held at the center instead of the college, that the give the MJC students units and a grade. These are held in the fall, spring and summer.
Debbie holds workshops and weekend intensives at the center, like the one
that she just had with Swami Ganesh Nand, where he demonstrated vibration healing by using a special drum and breathing techniques, charka opening and balancing and mind control.
For Debbie the Village Yoga Center is a place for learning, healing, and strengthening the body, mind and spirit. Through yoga she says, “You can add years to your life and life to your years!” Wolski closes many of her yoga sessions with this wonderful quote: “When there is light in the soul, there is beauty in the person. When there is beauty in the person, there is harmony in the home, there is peace in the world”
For more information on The Yoga Center or to sign up for classes see
their website at www.villageyogacenter.com or call Debbie at 209-578-5441