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Year in Review: Flexibility key for Coquitlam yoga minstrel working with seniors

The Tri-City News catches up with some of the stories of 2020 to see how people have weathered the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic. Coquitlam yogi Chris Ridout has been bringing mirth, music and excercise to local seniors homes at a time when residents need it most.
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Chris Ridout reminds a couple of admirers of his yoga sing-a-longs to keep their distance. Photograph By MARIO BARTEL/THE TRI-CITY NEWS

For seniors living through four seasons of isolation and anxiety in care homes, Chris Ridout has been a ray of sunshine.

Oddly, that wasn’t in the job description when he became a yogi 10 years ago.

But as the COVID-19 pandemic kept most seniors living in care facilities confined to quarters, unable to see family members because of the risk of infection by the contagion, Ridout’s genial mix of exercise, sing-a-long music and bad jokes became an anticipated balm in stressful times.

Ridout, who’s been visiting some of the homes for eight years, said he wasn’t too concerned when the pandemic shut him down initially because nobody anticipated the crisis would extend beyond a few weeks.

But as the seasons have changed, he’s had to adapt his approach.

It also affirmed the importance of keeping the senior community active and engaged. “As the seriousness grew, I started to miss these people, my friends,” he said.

From socially distanced classes in the spring to outdoor sessions in the summer sunshine and now virtual visits using the Zoom online meeting platform, Ridout said the seniors have been incredibly resilient to keep up.

“Who said you can’t teach old dogs new tricks?”

Perhaps inspired by their fortitude, Ridout also completed a CD that can be purchased from his website,

He said the songs came from a need to change the way people interact with the natural world, and $10 from each sale will be donated to a COVID-related organization or other groups like Save the Children, Doctors Without Borders, David Suzuki Foundation or the BCSPCA.

Ridout said it’s important to make an impression in the universe, no matter how small.

“Find your happiness within,” he said. “The outside world with all of its problems and politics can easily overwhelm you.”