Three years ago, Cheryl Mefford and Debbie Antognoli came up with an idea to help senior citizens from the Granite City area become more relaxed and fit.
So they started teaching chair yoga classes.
“We were originally sponsored by Bridget Brasfield of Brasfield Chiropractic,” Mefford said. “Debbie and I have both gone to our yoga teacher training and we became certified yoga teachers with a 200-hour certification. What we thought was there are a lot of yoga instructors out there who teach the really hard yoga and people that could really benefit from it are people that have the disabilities. So we have seen some presentations of chair yoga and we thought that we really needed to offer this to our community because they could really benefit from it.”
Mefford said so far, the chair yoga classes have been getting huge turnouts.
“Our biggest group has been 34,” Mefford said. “It varies based on holidays and weather and vacations and stuff like that. There are a lot of returning people who have been coming almost the whole time. We get new people in regularly.”
Mefford and Antognoli teach chair yoga classes from 9:30 a.m. to 10:45 a.m. every Wednesday at the Nelson Hagnauer Township Hall in Granite City and from 9 a.m. to 10 a.m. every Friday at the Brown Recreation Center in Granite City. The cost for the Wednesday session is free and the fee for Friday’s session is $5.
The classes are for people age 55 and older. Before beginning a class, he or she must consult a physician, avoid practice right after eating, wear loose and comfortable clothing and wear flat, non-slip shoes such as sneakers.
In chair yoga classes, people simply perform regular yoga poses in a chair. This practice includes a series of slow, gentle movements and stretches while seated and the class may occasionally perform some standing poses using the chair for balance and stability. Chair yoga is perfect for someone who has difficulty practicing yoga on the floor or other physical limitations.
“Chair yoga is not really new,” Mefford said. “In the yoga community, there are so many different types of yoga that whatever you’re looking for you could probably find from the easiest to the just really gentle to the really difficult to the hot. It goes on a spectrum from really easy to really hard.”
Mefford said there are numerous health benefits of chair yoga, such as reduced stress and increased strength and flexibility.
“I think the best comments we get are how relaxed everybody feels and how much better and how their body can move easier,” Mefford said. “It helps them sleep. We get a lot of responses because it teaches them how to relax as well as doing the modified movements.”
For more information on the chair yoga classes, contact Mefford at (618) 401-2408 or Antognoli at 558-8485.