Kathy Stanton leads a yoga for first responders class at Yoga ME in Eliot for the Eliot Police Department. At left is Police Chief Elliot Moya. Credit: Ralph Morang | York County Coast Star

Police Chief Elliot Moya spoke enthusiastically about a yoga class on Monday. Members of his department have been taking a yoga for first responders class at Yoga in ME.

Moya said the yoga connection was made a few months ago when his department had a health meeting, with experts on nutrition and wellness invited.

“There’s big push for officer wellness,” Moya said.

Part of that meeting was a demonstration and sample yoga class by Nancy Garnhart, co-owner of Yoga in ME.

“It is something we wanted to try. After an hour, we felt relaxed,” he said.

After a couple of months of yoga classes, Moya said, “We can get the job out of our heads, and have an hour in the present,” he said, “We have definitely stretched parts of our bodies we didn’t know we had.”

And, he added, “After class, everybody sleeps great.”

Yoga in ME has been holding free yoga for veterans classes, and instructor Kathy Stanton has molded a similar class for first responders. She said there are concerns for post-traumatic stress disorder.

Last week, Moya, Sgt. Ron Lund, officer Ryan Mazur, police auxiliary member Chuck Creteau, and Lund’s fiance, Naomi McCormack, participated. Other department members attend when they can, including Administrative Assistant Judy Smith.

Under Stanton’s instruction, the group is relaxed after two months with the breathing regimen and the various postures, from balance posture, to tree, to chair, warrior and wisdom.

As hamstrings stretched, Stanton said it should not hurt.

“This is not a no-pain no-gain sort of place.”

After an hour, the class ended with five minutes of rest with cool music playing. Stanton asked the class to center and said, “Think of something you are grateful for,” she said and thanked them for coming.

“It’s great for mental health and wellness” said Lund, a 26-year police officer. “I wish it was more. I thank the chief for exposing us to this.”

Mazur added, “It’s nice after a hard day — it resets you.”

Yoga in Me, at Eliot Commons, has openings for more first responders and welcomes more veterans. For more information, visit yogainme.com.