Expo helps put patrons in touch with body, mind and soul

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PITTSFIELD — Achieving better health isn't limited to exercise and dieting; learning to breathe correctly, and consciously, is also an important key in living well, health care providers said Saturday at the Body, Mind & Soul Health Expo.

More than 500 people ventured to the Crowne Plaza to take part in the inaugural expo, co-sponsored by The Berkshire Eagle and Berkshire Health Systems. More than 40 vendors, including health care providers, fitness centers, spas and more, distributed literature and shared tips for caring for minds and bodies in the new year.

Louis Yarmosky, a 71-year-old pediatric dentist with offices in Pittsfield and Great Barrington, said it wasn't until about three years ago that he learned how important it is to teach children to breathe through their noses.

His daughter, Lauren Ballinger, also a dentist in his practice, spearheaded the more holistic approach to dentistry in his practice.

Mouth breathing, which is common in Western culture, can cause children to develop smaller mouths and crowded teeth, Yarmosky said. It also limits the amount of oxygen getting into the lungs, he said.

When children breathe properly, through their noses, their tongue acts as an expander and ensures that the mouth develops correctly, which can prevent health problems and needing braces, according to Yarmosky.

"You go to a dentist now, make sure you're functioning properly and breathing properly," he said, adding that more than 50 percent of the children who come into his office breathe through their mouths.

Sharing proper breathing techniques and overall mindfulness was also the focus of Berkshire Health Systems educator Angela Wilson.

Visitors tested out essential oils that are used to improve mood and reduce stress levels.

Lavender has a calming effect, and eucalyptus is a pick-me-up, Wilson said.

"I feel that mindfulness is a huge trend," Wilson said. "The more people can find the time to breathe and be present, that helps stress levels."

Aimee McLear a Rogue Yoga instructor who works out of studios like Curves and Radiance in Pittsfield, echoed Wilson.

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"A lot of people walk through life without thinking about it and just being present," she said. "They're just moving without breathing."

McLear and her 11-year-old daughter play crystal singing bowls. Each tone played on the traditional bowls, made of quartz crystal, are said to line up with a different chakra, or center of energy, in the body.

The bowls are sometimes played at the end of yoga classes to bring students back from mediation.

Leo Gniadel of Pittsfield waited in a line for a massage, which, she said, she knew her body needed.

"I think this is interesting," she said of the expo. "A lot of people here are learning about themselves."

More traditional routes to health and fitness also had their time to shine Saturday.

For Ashley and Justin Soules, the expo marked the beginning of the third year that their Lee company, Soules Sports & Fitness, has been in business.

Justin, who grew up in Lee, said that he was acutely aware of the need for an all-inclusive fitness center in the town and decided to take the risk of starting one. The business, which offers group classes, weight training and off-site training, has thrived, and he intends to expand next year.

For Soules, the most important part of fitness is an "overall balance," he said, which includes strength training, cardio and flexibility.

Joyce Brewer, manager of the Berkshire Area Health Education Center, was reaching out to individuals trying to quit smoking.

With new technology like vaping and e-cigarettes, which come in flavors, adults and children are continuing to be lured toward tobacco, she said.

Brewer's colleague, Silvana Kirby, director of Medical Interpreting Training at Berkshire AHEC, handed out cards to individuals who might be interested in learning how to be medical translators in the county.

Haven Orecchio-Egresitz can be reached at horecchio@berkshireeagle.com, @HavenEagle on Twitter and 413-770-6977.


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