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Would Hazel’s expression had been different if she had had a regular Restorative Yoga practice?
  • Christine Jelley

This still photo, captured from the introduction to the Mary Tyler Moore Show in 1969, went from great to iconic with the unintentional appearance of passerby Hazel Frederick in the background. As Mary throws her hat into the air, Hazel looks on with an undisguised lack of humor at young Mary’s frivolity and joie de vive. Now, many years later, I see Hazel in a new light. Maybe she wasn’t just a Negative Nellie. Maybe she missed the days of endless possibilities; dreams that lay ahead, rather than behind. Would Hazel’s expression had been different if she had had a regular Restorative Yoga practice?

Bear with me, I know it’s a bit of a stretch.

I recently attended a special Restorative Yoga class for $35 for 90 minutes on a Saturday afternoon. Per FI, “Restorative poses are slow and deliberate and are held for long periods of time with props to stimulate the parasympathetic and sympathetic nervous systems. It is for all levels and is a deep practice… just not ‘athletic’ or fast-paced.”

What are the parasympathetic and sympathetic nervous systems?

Per Livestrong, “The parasympathetic nervous system works in conjunction with the sympathetic nervous system, triggering the body to secrete hormones to decrease blood pressure and heart rate, inducing a relaxation response. Breathing deeply and mindfully helps stimulate the parasympathetic nervous system to trigger this response.” Conversely, again, per Livestrong, “During a perceived stressful or dangerous situation, the sympathetic nervous system goes into fight or flight, triggering the adrenal glands to secrete the hormones that increase blood pressure and heart rate.” And (good info) there’s an also enteric nervous system which is responsible for your stomach hurting when you are stressed out.

Anyhow, this class is all about guided relaxation, healing and leaving your problems at the door. I am very good at taking my problems with me wherever I go, but like my cell phone and thoughts of everything/everyone else, they stayed in the car. Giving my mind and body a break from the “to-do” list is something I need, apparently along with the 20 plus other participants. The yoga room was filled to capacity when, frankly, I anticipated a smaller turnout on a Saturday afternoon. The full class did not make me feel less relaxed, but more. Everyone was here for the same relief/healing/rest, and it made for a community of like-minded people. A “community” in 2019 – yes, it still happens!

We were provided with mats, bolsters, props and yoga blankets. I used the yoga blanket without fear that I’d look like a baby who needs her “blankie,” which I generally do feel. I just went with it. I did the poses and modifications without shame. Newsflash: I wasn’t looking at anyone, and I’m pretty sure that they weren’t looking at me. No one is judging. Everyone has the same goal – to relax.

Back to Hazel.

It had been a normal day of shopping when she happened upon the film crew. She wasn’t identified until 20 years later when she met Mary Tyler Moore at a book signing. Mary Tyler Moore hugged her and lovingly called her, “My co-star.” If Hazel had had a Restorative Yoga practice, she might have had a different expression on her face in that photo. Would it have been a better picture with a calm and centered or even “joyful” Hazel? I’m trying to picture it. It might have been okay, but I like the picture as is and Hazel went on to live a long and seemingly happy life. Maybe she did practice yoga after all.


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About the Author

christine jelley

Christine Jelley

Christine Jelley is a long-time FI Member and regular contributor to Fit to Print who’s feeling particularly relaxed after her Restorative Yoga class.

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