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September 28, 2010 > Special Life Event: Celebrating nine decades

Special Life Event: Celebrating nine decades

By Julie Grabowski

On September 9, the Senior Center in Fremont hosted a celebration in honor of one near and dear to their hearts. After leading her Thursday morning yoga class, Barbara Lyon was treated to a 90th birthday party and potluck luncheon, complete with cake, a little skit based on her classes, and an original poetry reading by Corey Morlock. Numerous friends and well-wishers turned out to celebrate this special lady and what she has meant to their lives and so many others.

Barbara was born in Chicago and grew up in New York, then moved to San Francisco when her husband got a new job. She crossed the bay to Fremont when he was made Rector of St. James Episcopal Church, and has stayed almost 40 years.

She began taking yoga in her 30's when she was diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis. She was allergic to the proscribed medication and found the exercise to be much more helpful. When she was about 50 years old, her yoga teacher got injured and someone was needed to take over the class. "In those days it wasn't very popular," notes Barbara, who volunteered to take over. She taught at Ohlone College and volunteered at the Fremont Adult School before leading her current class at the Senior Center, where she has been for the last 20 years. Classes are every Tuesday and Thursday for one hour. People come when they can so class size fluctuates, but averages around 50 people. Barbara teaches the classes out of the kindness of her heart, as the position is unpaid. But in addition to their large turn out, students show their appreciation with a love offering of donations.

"All her adult life she has been working for the betterment of this community," says Pat Heer, who took up yoga with Barbara when she retired 16 years ago. "She accommodates people and is so kind."

In addition to her long years of yoga instruction Barbara has also taught movement, music, and physical therapy, raised five children, written poetry and prose, and painted watercolors. She has continued her writing and meets with a writing group at the Senior Center, as well as takes courses with local writing teacher Robin Michel. She is currently putting together a book of poetry, and has plans to paint more pictures.

Her actual birthday is September 20, which she spent on a camping trip with family. "I'm very grateful that I'm still moving," says Barbara of turning 90, aware that many others have difficulty. "You have to move, and do it regularly and consciously to keep moving." She says the important thing for seniors is to find what kind of exercise works for them, what they are willing to stay with.

Barbara continues to pursue the passions in her life with a simple and heartfelt devotion that knows no age, her shining spirit an encouragement to others. "Most of us aspire to follow in her footsteps in her exuberance for life and participation in community," says Pat. "Barbara is such a giving, spiritual person. It feels good to recognize that and give something back to her."



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