, Muskogee, OK

July 11, 2013

Women’s conference adds twist

Chamber leadership event includes office yoga

By Cathy Spaulding
Phoenix City Editor

— Sometimes, a little arm twisting can do a lot of good in the office.

Women attending the 2013 Women’s Leadership Conference felt that in their bones, wrists and shoulder joints Wednesday morning. Office Yoga was one of several sessions aimed at helping empower women at the conference, held at Indian Capital Technology Center.

Officials with the Greater Muskogee Area Chamber of Commerce, which put on the conference, said about 121 women arrived for morning sessions. An additional 44 arrived for the luncheon, which featured a fashion show.

“Each year it keeps getting better and better,” said Sue Godwin, chairwoman of the chamber’s Women’s Conference Committee. “We always look for ways to reach out to women, help them grow into leadership positions. The conference renews you to be able to go back revitalized.”

Connors State College math teacher Heather Lester said she could take what she learned at Office Yoga back to her work.

“All the stretching exercises were great,” she said. “I get stiff sometimes.”

Yoga educator Lisa Bracken showed participants how they can ease the strains of work with stretching, twisting and deep breathing.

Some of these could actually be done at the desk, Bracken said, noting that hours of sitting could add to stress and strains.

“Your spine, after 20 to 30 minutes of sitting starts to compress,” she said as she led the class in what she called a spinal quick lube. She said “motion is lotion.”

The participants, many from Connors, followed Bracken’s lead and stretched their arms overhead, to their sides, front and back.

“Am I going to be sore tomorrow,” one participant asked.

“It’s going to be a good sore,” the teacher answered.

 Bracken, who also owns and operates the Canebrake resort, also led the class in relaxation and breathing exercises.

Other sessions at the conference aimed to empower women.

Organizing consultant Kimberly Williams discussed the value of keeping work spaces organized. She said it is hard to feel a sense of calm “when there is clutter.”

Women in a non-traditional roles panel told how they succeeded.

Alternate Municipal Judge Tony Bradley Smith suggested women find mentors to help them.

“I surrounded myself with really smart, really good people who have my self-interest in mind,” Smith said.

Muskogee Police Officer Shannon Crary told participants to “get your education first or as quickly as you can.”

Chamber President and Chief Executive Officer Treasure McKenzie said the conference “creates opportunities for women to learn from each other.”

Reach Cathy Spaulding at (918) 684-2928 or