NYer of the Week: Antonia Tita Helps Fellow Seniors Stretch Past Their Limitations, Age

Our latest New Yorker of the Week works at full stretch to strengthen the mind, body, and spirit of her fellow seniors. NY1's John Schiumo introduces us.

88-year-old Antonia Tita says the key to feeling young is to just keep moving.

"Movement is life, and you need to stretch in order to stay young. If you get rigid, you’re old, but we don't want to get old, we want to stay young," Antonia said. "So we move all the parts of our body, from head to toe."

It's a lifestyle that the Manhattan native shares as a yoga instructor at the Isabella Senior Resource Center in Washington Heights.

Every Thursday since 2011, Antonia demonstrates modified techniques to her fellow seniors.

"I teach them how to breathe the breath of life and feel wonderful," Antonia said. "And I teach them how to move their bodies in the most beautiful ways, in order to be more flexible and to be younger than their age."

Antonia adjusts each exercise in the free class to target students' needs. With each breath and stretch, balance and endurance is improved.

"I have diabetes and I was diagnosed five years ago, and ever since I've started coming to yoga class I feel more energized," Grace Castillo, a participant, said. "You just feel that you've got the patience to deal with whatever problems you have."

"They want to stay independent, they want to continue to stay at home, and they want to be able to climb the stairs to their apartment," said Miriam Colon, the program manager at Isabella Center. "These movements that she brings into her class allow them to do that."

And allows seniors to learn that it's never too late to be active and to have community.

"People start leaving, dying around you, you feel very lonely. So you think that your life is going to the end, but coming here, with the help of Antonia I feel better not only physically, [but] emotionally," participant Ana Perez said.

"This is a wonderful group. They root for each other. When they see somebody doing something they never did before, they're proud and they acknowledge," Antonia said. "We really hold hands and hold ourselves up."

And so, for helping seniors stay young at heart by finding peace of mind, Antonia Tita is our New Yorker of the Week.

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