Yoga instructor Maureen Dwyer embraces the fun side of fitness with her fun and popular classes
It’s been over four decades since Corey and Trina released their song “Cover of The Newfoundland Herald.”
In the same comedic style as the legendary Newfoundland musical icons, yoga instructor Maureen Dwyer often jokes with those in her class about how great it would be to get their picture on the cover of Newfoundland’s entertainment magazine.
“I looked (at students in the class) and I said, ‘Your poses are just beautiful.’ I said ‘One of those days, we’re going to get our picture on the cover of The Newfoundland Herald,’” Dwyer laughed, breaking into song for the last words of her sentence.
Dwyer’s wonderful wit and expert knowledge about yoga are just some of reasons why her classes have grown in popularity over the past 40-plus years.
“My classes are not really serious. We have a lot of fun,” she said.
Dwyer spent the first nine years of her life on Fogo Island until her parents moved their family to Lewisporte. After graduating from high school she obtained a teaching degree at Memorial University and began her career in Bishop’s Falls where she met her husband Gerald Dwyer.
The couple settled in Baie Verte, where Dwyer was introduced to yoga.
“That was in the seventies… “Geoff Stirling (NTV founder and media guru) used to come on TV promoting yoga (as a means of achieving wellness and inner peace) … I really enjoyed it and when the instructor in Baie Verte left, she asked if she could train me to take over for her.” The rest, as they say, is history.
A lifestyle of balance
Dwyer is a certified yoga instructor. When she and her husband retired and moved from Baie Verte to St. John’s in 1993, she looked for a yoga class.
She began attending classes regularly at the YMCA and participating in workshops, retreats and seminars – in this province and beyond. When the instructor left Baie Verte, shortly after attending classes in St. John’s, Dwyer was asked to take over.
Through the years, she’s continued to do so and currently teaches seven classes at the Paul Reynolds Community Centre and one at the H.G.R. Mews Community Centre – all under the umbrella of the City of St. John’s.
“I teach eight classes a week and all levels of classes,” she said.
For Dwyer, yoga is very much a lifestyle that builds both strength and balance. It’s about much more than exercise, she said. “It’s great for concentration and relaxation. If you can move, you can practice yoga,” she said.
Biggest asset? Laughter
The City of St. John’s Department of Community Services facilities manager, Carla Squires, said Dwyer is a valued member of the city’s Fitness Leadership Team. “Not only is she a role model yoga instructor with a lifetime of wellness knowledge, she is a mentor to our younger yoga instructors who truly value Maureen’s dedication to our yoga,” Squires said.
Dwyer’s biggest asset? Her sense of humour. “It is truly inspirational to watch Maureen teach and lead her yoga students,” Squires said.
Michelle Newhook has been participating in Dwyer’s yoga classes for about 15 years.
“Dwyer is a wonderful instructor,” she said. “She’s so much fun. She makes yoga simple. And we call our class relaxing yoga. She’s a dynamic woman, full of energy and humour, which is what makes her classes so enjoyable,” Newhook said.
Dianne Druken is also a regular in Dwyer’s class. She describes her yoga instructor as vibrant, kind and reassuring. “Maureen is always reminding you to be careful in different positions. She continually educates herself on yoga and brings it back and shares it with her class,” Druken said.
While not one to toss about her age, Dwyer lightheartedly recalls reading a newspaper story about a 98-year-old yoga instructor. “I cut out her picture and put it up on the wall. I’d say, ‘I’m going to be like her,’” she laughed.