Eleanor Howard has been teaching yoga in the Warren Woods Public Schools system for the past 48 years, with the exception of three years when she lived in China.

Eleanor Howard has been teaching yoga in the Warren Woods Public Schools system for the past 48 years, with the exception of three years when she lived in China.

Photo by Deb Jacques


WWPS instructor has the right yoga moves

By: Maria Allard | Warren Weekly | Published June 21, 2019

 Howard first discovered yoga 53 years ago when she was three months pregnant with her oldest son. She said yoga gives her peace, serenity, contentment and much more.

Howard first discovered yoga 53 years ago when she was three months pregnant with her oldest son. She said yoga gives her peace, serenity, contentment and much more.

Photo by Deb Jacques

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WARREN — “Sit with your legs crossed. Our hands are rested on our knees. Close your eyes. Relax your face. Set aside your day. Let’s slip inside the sanctuary of ourselves, where it’s peaceful, where it’s quiet.”

That was how yoga instructor Eleanor “Ellie” Howard began class the evening of June 17 at the Warren Woods Public Schools Education Center. Howard, who has two grown sons, has been teaching for WWPS for the past 48 years, with the exception of three years when she lived in China.

The yoga program has been in different buildings, including Warren Woods Middle School and the former Holly Junior High School, which is now De La Salle Collegiate High School. It’s currently held 6:30-7:30 p.m. Mondays at the Education Center, 12900 Frazho Road.

The 10-week program costs $70, and new students are always welcome. People who are interested can stop by the class at 6:30 p.m. on a Monday to sign up. People can pay online, via Payschools on the district’s website, www.warrenwoods.misd.net. Cash and checks are taken at the Education Center office.

Howard first discovered yoga 53 years ago by watching Richard Hittleman on television when she was three months pregnant with her oldest son. Howard’s commitment to practicing and teaching yoga has kept her fit ever since.

Howard teaches yoga classes three times a week — Mondays in WWPS, and Tuesdays and Thursdays at Point Fitness in Harper Woods. The Eastpointe resident is 80 years young and credits her yoga regimen with her well-being.

“I feel a lot healthier. I feel a lot stronger,” said Howard, who grew up in Dearborn. “There’s no high blood pressure, diabetes or heart problems. There’s peace. There’s serenity. There’s contentment. There’s quiet time in my mind. The word ‘yoga’ means ‘to join,’ meaning joining or uniting the mental, physical and spiritual aspects of ourselves. It is a discipline from India using breathing techniques, exercise postures and meditation to improve health and happiness.

“There is nothing we can do about the aging process, but there are things we can do to slow it down,” she said, and that includes exercise, eating right and getting enough sleep. “We have to keep our bodies moving. If we don’t, our muscles shorten up. The joints dry up and they’re subject to arthritis. People have back problems because of a weak lower back.”

Since 1975, Howard has been a member of the Yoga Association of Greater Detroit, where she continues to learn about nutrition, posture, muscles and anatomy.

Nancy Hume, of Sterling Heights, and her friend Sharon Hafelein, of Fraser, began taking Howard’s yoga class in WWPS 15 years ago.

“We were both working at the time and decided we needed something, and yoga sounded good,” Hume, 67, said.

“I liked it right away. It’s super good for balance,” Hafelein, 65, said. “Ellie is very welcoming. You feel very at home with her.”

Hume and Hafelein were among the seven students at class last Monday evening. Hume described Howard as “a role model,” and Hume said she appreciates all she gets out of the class.

“It’s relaxing and clears my mind,” Hume said, adding that it allows the students to continue to be flexible. “It’s our hour we get to just focus on us and let everything go.”

“It’s not only good exercise, it’s strengthening and toning. It keeps you young,” Peg Owens, 70, of Leonard, said. “It’s good for any muscle that might not be working well. The relaxation at the end is like getting four hours of solid sleep.”

St. Clair Shores resident Leslie DeMeyre, 73, stays fit by taking Howard’s class.

“It’s helped my back issues,” she said. “It’s helped my strength and relaxation. It tones your whole body.”

Not only has Howard mastered yoga, she’s also a world traveler who has visited Korea, Australia, Thailand, Jamaica and Spain. She studied yoga in India. She lived in Shanghai, China, for three years when an acquaintance offered her a job overseas.

She has a master’s degree in education from Wayne State University. In 2014, Howard returned to school and became a certified English as a second language instructor, and began teaching General Motors workers and their spouses English.

She volunteers for the Detroit Convention and Visitors Bureau, and has been one of the 100-plus volunteers to unfurl the flag at Comerica Park’s opening day for the Detroit Tigers for the past 12 years.

Howard sells 50-50 raffle tickets for the Detroit Tigers at Comerica Park and for the Detroit Red Wings at Little Caesars Arena. She also was a volunteer when Detroit hosted the Super Bowl in 2006 and was a volunteer in Atlanta for the 2019 Super Bowl. She hopes for a repeat for the 2020 Super Bowl in Florida.

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