What to do when the nest is empty of this one and only child and your spouse is super busy with work?
Yoga. Teach yoga, to be more precise.
That’s what Kay Smith envisioned before her son Luke left for basic education and college and knowing how involved her husband Chris is in his duties as Ontario High School Principal.
Most people know Smith as office manager of Bucyrus dentists, Dr. Glen McMurray and Dr. Autumn Sackett. But she is also the instructor for KaYoga classes at Bucyrus Masonic Building and Black Iron Fitness in Lexington. “It’s something totally different from what I do every day,” she said of her side gig.
25 years in the dental office
She has worked in the dental office for 25 years in June. “I must have been 12 when I started,” Smith joked. It’s not that she dreamed as a child of becoming the director of a dental practice. The 1988 Bucyrus High School graduate thought she would work in public relations or broadcasting. She majored in communications at the University of Akron and graduated in 1992. College in the big city was a culture shock “kinda, sure, but I loved it. I really did.
Her husband Chris, also an Akron graduate, was teaching at Oberlin when he had the opportunity to take up a teaching position at BHS. So it was back to Bucyrus where, at some point, she could draw a line between her home and her parents’ home and those of her sisters, Amy and Beth.
“When I came back, nobody knew what public relations was,” Smith recalled. She worked for the radio station and United Way before Dr. McMurray contacted her. He didn’t know what her exact position would be, but told her they would find out. “I still honestly like going to my job every day.” During this period, she has seen the operation move from paper documents to digital. “I’m happy to know both, I’m happy to have experienced both,” she said.
In addition to tennis, softball, and student council, Smith was also a cheerleader at BHS. It made her role as a cheerleading advisor at her alma mater kind of a natural progression. “I loved it,” she said of her seven-year tenure. “I loved those girls. I had some really good girls… We won good old Bratwurst Festival cheerleading competitions.
Moved to Ontario
The Smiths moved to Ontario in 2013 when Chris became director of OHS. When their son Luke, now a pre-med student at Ohio State University, graduated from high school and was leaving for Air National Guard training, “I knew I needed something to keep me busy. my time,” Smith said. “I should just teach yoga.”
She had been taking classes for 10 years and was certified to teach through YogaFit in Columbus. Noting that not all yoga instructors are certified, she said, “I didn’t even know that was an option.”
Smith has taught free chair yoga classes at the Bucyrus Public Library, offered mommy and me sessions, taught classes at the Crestline Public Library, and taught outdoor classes at Pickwick Place and Lowe-Volk Park. The Crawford County Humane Society got a portion of the proceeds when it offered cat, goat and sheep yoga where the creatures run around, under and over participants.
She thinks the appeal of yoga is that it encompasses the whole person – mind, body and spirit, explaining, “Once you try it, you can get addicted.” She has taught people ages 9 to 78 and suggests modifications for those who can’t complete every plank or twist. Smith sees the need for self-care as particularly important during the global pandemic. “We forget to take time for ourselves,” Smith said. “Life gets involved.”
The corpse posture
Shavasana, the corpse pose, ends most classes, with the lights off, the music playing softly, relaxation as the goal. It works to the point that Smith had to wake a student who had fallen asleep on her mat.
People tend to lose flexibility as they age, she tells students, so yoga can help with that. As she insists no one should be intimidated by practicing yoga as it works for all shapes and sizes, Smith can once again do the splits she used to do back then cheerleaders. “That’s damn good, isn’t it?” she laughed.
Her sisters have been her guides for this aging thing. The two warned her of waking up to a “muffin top” at 40 and vision changes at 45. “Fifty was good,” but she said she discovered the same things in her nightstand as in one of her sisters: Tums, Biofreeze. and reading glasses.
Once again a cheerleader, this time for her students, she loves the relationships she has forged. Smith described how cool it was to see two participants being able to hold their tree pose in a recent class. While she offers something for a fee, she said she also gets something out of it. “I’m always so happy” after class, she says.
Lisa Miller is a former journalist and editor of the Bucyrus Telegraph-Forum and the Mansfield News Journal. She can be contacted at [email protected]