Yoga helps seniors maintain health, mobility
Yoga helps seniors maintain health, mobility
While teaching a chair yoga class at the Liberty branch of the Warren-Trumbull County Public Library, Mary Brown reminded students that they should listen to their bodies and never do a move that causes pain.
“Yoga should not hurt you. It should challenge you, but not hurt you,” Brown said.
This is especially true with chair yoga. It is a GENTLE form of yoga used for health, relaxation and stretching. Chair yoga is adapted for people of all abilities doing the same moves while sitting in a chair or using one for support. It’s well suited for older people looking to maintain flexibility, balance and strength.
Students definitely see a difference in their bodies after attending chair yoga classes.
“I have been coming to chair yoga since September 2022,” said Kathy Ash of Howland, who attends St. Joe’s at the Mall class. “I noticed that I feel more graceful. I have better posture. I have neck and back issues and I have found that chair yoga is better than physical therapy.”
Katherine Thomas of Howland also has seen improvement while attending the Howland SCOPE senior center class.
“I have been coming to chair yoga for two years. I have noticed that I have better balance,” she said.
Chair yoga is a physical activity that does not require special clothing or equipment. All the student needs to do is dress comfortably to be able to move in class and be prepared to feel stronger and more relaxed afterward, Brown said.
HOW IT WORKS
Chair yoga class begins while students are seated. Typically, the teacher talks the students through a short meditation to get them to slow down from their hectic lives and to bring their concentration to this time and this space. Then, the movement portion of the class, which includes poses, begins.
Classes usually last an hour. Students said it makes a difference in the rest of their day.
“We work on balance with standing positions with the chair next to us if needed to hold on to it,” said Kathy Dew, Howland and Cortland SCOPE senior centers chair yoga instructor.
Several area locations offer these classes throughout the week.
The poses help students with their stability and coordination, and the movements concentrate on different parts of each person’s body — from their neck and shoulders down to their ankles and feet.
“We sit during the day, so through a chair yoga class, one can learn some stretches to limber up the body and bring movement to the joints as well as increase blood flow to the joints and organs,” Brown said.
“It’s a great way to start out my week on Monday with chair yoga,” said Fanziska Iannou of Warren about her Howland SCOPE class.
During the pandemic, gatherings in person were not available, but all that has changed.
“I took several chair yoga classes (online) during the pandemic. Although I was grateful for them so I could continue with my yoga practice, I prefer in-person classes. I enjoy socializing during group classes and sharing experiences,” said Michele Saffell of Liberty, who attends the class at the Liberty library.
Although these classes are more popular with women, it is not an activity just for them.
“I have been coming for about a month with my husband to chair yoga,” Carol Williams of Howland said about the St. Joe’s at the Mall class. “Frank had joint replacement surgery and this is something that we can do together.”
“I have been coming to chair yoga class since 2005,” said Elaine Bender of Howland, who attends the Howland SCOPE class. “I like that it keeps my body moving and I feel energetic afterwards.”
Melanie Lapaze of Liberty, who attends the class at the Liberty library, finds the movements to be great exercise.
WHAT YOU CAN DO
Yoga is about what you can do, not what you can’t.
“The class is adaptable. If you can’t do something, then the teacher will show you how to do an alternative movement,” Williams said.
Students make strong poses such as Warrior 1 and Warrior 2 as they reap the positive aspects of their movements through continued practice.
“Chair yoga benefits the entire body,” said Colleen Dunn, instructor at Niles SCOPE and the TriYOUUnity Center in Warren. “It keeps the mind strong. You stretch all of your muscles.”
After the 60 minutes of bending forward and to each side, stretching and standing, students are ready for the end-of-class meditation.
“I find peace through meditation,” Saffell said.
This portion of the class helps the students ease back into their day.
“I look forward to relaxation at the end of class. I need to learn how to relax and slow down,” Williams said.
Chair yoga schedule
• Cortland SCOPE, 153 Grove St. — 11 a.m. to noon Tuesdays . For more information, call 330-637-3010 or 330-974-6762.
• Girard Multi-Generational Center, 443 Trumbull Ave. — 2 to 3 p.m. Tuesdays and Thursdays. For more information, call 330-545-6596.
• Howland SCOPE, 8273 High St. — Noon to 1 p.m. Mondays. For more information, call 330-609-7806.
• Johnston Senior Center, 5922 Warren Road, Cortland — 1 to 2 p.m. Mondays. For more information, call 330-924-0412.
• Liberty Library, 415 Churchill Hubbard Road — 11 a.m. to noon Wednesdays. For more information, call 330-759-2589.
• Newton Falls SCOPE, 812 W. Broad St. — 1 to 2 p.m. Wednesdays. For more information, call 330-306-9577.
• Niles SCOPE, 14 E. State St. (check for temporary location during remodel) — 10:30 to 11:30 a.m. Wednesdays. For more information, call 330-574-2888.
• St. Joe’s at the Mall, Eastwood Mall, Niles — 10 a.m. to 11 a.m. Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays. For more information, call 330-652-7542.
• Tri-YOUUnity Center, 239 S. Main Ave., Warren — 1:15 p.m. Tuesdays and Fridays. For more information, call 330-766-4495.
• Mercy Health Stepping Out program at E.J. Blott Elementary School, 4115 Shady Road, Youngstown — 6 p.m. Wednesdays. For more information, call 330-480-8659.