Myriad Gardens plans several health and fitness activities 

click to enlarge CARL SHORTT
  • Carl Shortt

Just wandering around the lush landscapes at Myriad Botanical Gardens can be good for your health, but program organizers don’t want to let the benefits stop there.

This winter, programs at the gardens focus on enriching the mind, improving the body and nourishment.

“January is the time of year for new beginnings and to kick-start things,” said Ann Fleener, education director. “Our way of thinking at the gardens is that being healthy is a lot more than counting calories or going to the gym. It’s food and diet and exercise, but it’s also your mind and the things you focus on.”

Fleener has a master’s and doctorate degrees in socio-horticulture, which studies the impact plants have on people, so she is well-versed in the ways plants can help people. Much of those studies date back to a study in the 1980s that found hospital patients fared better when they had plants or a view of plants in their room.

Programs at the gardens will focus on all these peripheral benefits.

“If you walk in a garden, your blood pressure is lower, your stress level is down just from being in the presence of plants,” she said. “We are helping people to become aware of that and more. It’s amazing all the things that plants can do.”

Wellness Retreat

Saturday, the gardens offers its second annual Wellness Retreat, which focuses on a complete health experience. The retreat opens with a speaker discussing the benefits of natural herbs and allows participants to make their own herbal vinegar.

“A lot of people may know that peppermint is an astringent, but it’s also great for bloating,” Fleener said. “There are like 10 other things you can use it for. It’s really enlightening.”

Another speaker will discuss natural beauty remedies and give participants a restorative clay facemask. Lunch will be served by The Loaded Bowl, and someone from the restaurant will speak on eating quality, healthy foods that are grown locally.

The afternoon of the retreat will feature a yoga class and a mediation session and discussion on mindfulness.

Some of the lessons taught at the retreat aren’t exclusive to that particular event.

The yoga classes, for example, remain some of the gardens’ most popular events. Yoga in the Gardens is held weekly and is free for members. In good weather, the classes are held on the Great Lawn. During the winter and other inclement weather, participants practice in a room with a view of the gardens and fountains.

A new family yoga class that teaches yoga to children age 5 and their parents will be offered.

Public events coordinator Ashley Elkins said gardens visitors asked for this particular class.

“We actually had people who brought young ones to our regular yoga class,” she said. “We were worried about them getting injured or thought it might be a distraction for people who are really serious about the practice. Child yoga is really growing in popularity, so we figured we would give it a try.”

The gardens also plans to offer programs for its older visitors. A new event, Senior Day Out at the Gardens, will give visitors at least 62 years old a chance to have a private tour of the gardens and learn about specific topics geared toward them.

“It’s really an opportunity for us at the gardens to develop a relationship with our seniors,” Elkins said. “Seniors are some of the people who visit the gardens most, so we wanted to create something for them.”

On Jan. 26, Senior Day Out includes a tour of the gardens, a seminar on vegetable gardening in small spaces and a discussion about types of plants that thrive in Oklahoma.

Print headline; Budding medicine, Myriad Botanical Gardens gives visitors a chance to get healthy naturally.

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