By Irena Choi Stern
Feb. 15, 2017: She is the Bronxville Adult School's longest-serving instructor, having taught yoga for more than 20 years, and she remains one of the most popular. This spring semester, Mary Beltran will once again teach several yoga classes, from beginner to intermediate, all of which have a devoted following.
"I have been taking yoga with Mary for over 10 years," said Michele Cooper. "I started in her beginner class and, after some time, she encouraged me to take her intermediate class. Mary is not only encouraging to all her students, but she is patient and ever so kind. She is extremely knowledgeable not only regarding yoga but other holistic subjects as well."
Students describe how "you don't have to be an expert to take advantage of her knowledge," noting that Beltran allows students to go at their own pace but pushes them to go a little further.
"It's not about competition," Beltran said. "I always say to my students, wherever you are, you're getting a benefit. It's about building a foundation. If you don't have a foundation, you can't go beyond your foundation. Stay with what you can do, build that up, and you'll move on."
When she isn't teaching yoga, the Riverdale resident is an inventor, and her latest invention is set to debut in March: the MagScoop (http://www.magscoop.net/).
"It's a magnetic scooping system [to solve the problem of having] scoops in the bottom of containers of protein powders [or other materials]," Beltran said. "It has three magnets. Two magnets attached to the lid and a magnet in the scoop that attaches underneath the lid so the scoop is always accessible."
Beltran also offers a Feldenkrais class, described as a safe, effective way for people of all ages and abilities to improve flexibility and coordination, reduce stress, and relieve strain on the back and joints. It promotes freer, more efficient and graceful movement that results from learning to move more from one's center of gravity.
Ultimately, she describes yoga as an individual journey and notes that it can be particularly helpful to older people with everyday skills such as tying shoelaces, getting dressed, getting in and out of the shower, and brushing their hair.
"You'd be amazed," she said. "There are a lot of people who are so crippled and so stiff they can't move. I am always amazed at how, if people do like a 12-week session, how much they improve over that 12-week period. It improves the quality of your life."
"Mary is one of our most popular instructors," said Celia Cuce, executive director of the Bronxville Adult School. "Many of her students have been with her for years, but she is also very warm and welcoming to students who are new to yoga or new to BAS."
Cooper said she would take more classes if she could. "I am presently enrolled in two of Mary's classes and would enroll in more if I didn't work. Yoga has changed my life and I owe it all to Mary Beltran!"
Classes are conveniently scheduled weekdays, weeknights, and weekends this spring at the Bronxville Adult School. To find out more about the Bronxville Adult School fall course offerings and to register, go to https://www.bronxvilleadultschool.org or contact the office at 914-793-4435 or
Pictured here: Mary Beltran teaching yoga in the Bronxville Elementary School gymnasium.
Photos courtesy Irena Choi Stern