As the morning mist gives way to the sun, a captivating community in rural eastern Ontario comes to life.
In a local yoga and fitness studio, Hannah Hamsa helps the villagers wake up every day.
âHear the breath, feel the breath,â she said calmly.
The 83-year-old took her first class almost seven decades ago.
âThe first lesson, my yoga teacher said it would help you in the rushed and worried world,â she smiled.
Hannah has been providing strength and calm to students here for 35 years. His classes are favorites of yogis and yoginis of all ages, like Art Abbey, a 92-year-old beef farmer.
âWe are very lucky to have it,â Abbey said.
“You can tell by the numbers that keep coming out that she is obviously very popular.”
âShe’s a great example of how to stay fit as you get older,â said student and friend June Elliott.
âShe is very inspiring, very well known in the area and everyone loves Hannah,â she said with a warm smile.
Hannah loves her community.
âEveryone takes care of each other,â says the energetic octogenarian with a bounce in his step.
She walks around Vankleek Hill four times a week, hoping her strides will inspire others to move.
âWhen you do it multiple times, you feel the benefits. You start to feel good and say, ‘Wow, that’s why I feel better!’ She said.
While walking through a park in Vankleek Hill, a yoga student stops Hannah to thank her.
âWhen I do your class, even once a week, it saves me,â says the student.
âSeeing a beginner walk through the door to my yoga class, I know in my heart that something is going to change for him,â Hannah said with a smile.
Hannah has been active her entire life. As a young woman, she was a longtime cheerleader who turned the baton.
âWith the RoughRiders. We were called the O’Keefettes, she said.
Today, Hannah’s rotation is fitness. She encourages others to become strong and to stay strong.
“I built muscle here (showing his biceps) in three weeks when I was eighty.”
Rolling up her sleeve, she asked this question.
“Do you want to see my biceps?” This is it, âshe laughed, pointing at the bulge.
Hannah’s mantra is simple. When it comes to improving flexibility, strength and balance, it’s never too late.
âJust keep doing your best. Your body loves attention, so treat it right.