The Rural We: Nancy Opgaard
Nancy Opgaard may not be the only yoga teacher in the northwest corner of Connecticut, but according to one of her students in Cornwall who contacted us, she is the beloved instructor in their town. Along with teaching yoga, Opgaard is a massage therapist and offers meditation classes. It wasn’t her plan to become a yoga instructor, though, as she explains here.
I started practicing yoga in New York in 1982, and after being introduced to it in a martial arts class, I decided yoga was my first love. I had to choose between martial arts and yoga, because I couldn’t serve two masters. I never intended to become a teacher. I felt I was too shy and withdrawn, and didn’t like being in front of people, but my teacher insisted that I had to teach, so I started teaching in 1984.
Now I teach three courses a week at the Cornwall Library, and at High Watch Recovery Center in Kent five days a week. I lead all the yoga and meditation classes there, and it’s one of my favorite things. The population at High Watch is unique because of their struggles, and also because of the ages I work with. There are a lot of young people there, particularly a lot of young men. Most yoga classes are dominated by women, but there are more men at the retreat center, and the classes are male/female segregated. So guys will try yoga for the first time, and end up loving it.
I love my students in Cornall; they’re all great. I have some private clients once in a while, usually when people have an illness or injury and don’t fit into a regular class. I have run healing circles in the past, and hope to do it again. People are really hurting right now.
My husband and I moved to Cornwall eight years ago. We were living in Fairfield County, and my husband said, “Do you want to live here the rest of your life?” Gulp — no! But I had to think about where I really wanted to live. I decided inland, to the northwest corner of Connecticut. I liked the sound of Goshen. We started working with a realtor, who wasn’t coming up with the right place. So I Googled the image I had in my mind. Up popped this piece of land for sale in Cornwall that had the exact view that was in my mind. There wasn’t much information on it and we had to drive around to find it. We bought it and it took almost two years before we started building. My husband was a contractor, so he built our house.
I didn’t know anybody here. It took five years or so before I started to become part of the community. I began teaching a class here and there, and the classes have grown from 3 or 4 students to 15 to 20.
I’ve turned into a real yoga nerd. I went out last Friday night for the first time in years, and where did I go? To a restorative yoga class. I take one vacation a year — to see my yoga teacher. I’m an artist, but I don’t paint anymore; I don’t have the space or time for it. But it gives me great satisfaction if I can make a difference in someone’s life. I’ve been working with a private client who has MS. After a few weeks the change and progress has been remarkable and surprising even to me. When that happens, I think, “This is good.”