For Paris Johanson, the practice of yoga has been – and will always be – a way to get in tune with herself. She found yoga in high school while searching to heal herself both physically and emotionally. She grew up playing sports, which resulted in lingering injuries. As high school began to wind down, anxiety crept in. Introducing yoga as a daily practice helped her heal and overcome.

Paris loves sharing her gift with others. Photo courtesy: Paris Johanson.

If you’d told her then that she’d be helping people overcome the same type of obstacles ten years later, I’m not sure even she would have believed you.

An unfortunate accident spurred Paris into teaching yoga. Struck by a car while riding her bike, she suffered a tilted pelvis, severe back pain and hip trauma. During her recovery, she got back into yoga and began to take it more seriously. “I always knew I wanted to be a teacher,” Paris says. “I guess I just didn’t realize until after the accident. My mindset changed and I wanted yoga to be what I taught.”

Now Paris teaches the Movement as Medicine: 55+ Yoga class at the Center for Mindful Use. She created the class with seniors in mind to help them regain movement, increase flexibility and live happier, healthier lives.

“We are so grateful to count Paris amongst our wonderful teachers,” said CMU founder and director Mike Hiestand. “Her work with seniors is a true blessing to the Bellingham community. She is one of the city’s hidden gems.”

Paris teaches the Movement as Medicine: 55+ Yoga class at the Center for Mindful Use. Photo courtesy: Paris Johanson.

Paris brings a wealth of experience to her role. She taught yoga to seniors at retirement and nursing homes in Bellingham for years. The styles Paris teaches are yin restorative and vinyasa yoga. The Movement as Medicine class specifically features yin restorative yoga.

Paris discovered the Center for Mindful Use while attending a meditation training there. This chance occurrence proved to be more substantial than she could have imagined.

Now, she utilizes the space to teach her Movement as Medicine class Saturday mornings at 10:00 a.m. And as with all classes taught at the Center for Mindful Use on a donation basis, Paris gets to use the space rent-free. This is a huge bonus as she gets deeper into yoga teaching.

“I think the best part of my job is that I get to help people,” Paris says. “One time a woman came up to me after my class and told me how I had genuinely helped her get through a very difficult time in her life. I love that I can assist people in healing.”

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