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Church offers yoga as part of senior wellness

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Chair yoga classes are held at noon Tuesdays and Thursdays at Marquette Park United Methodist Church, 215 N. Grand Blvd., Gary.

Tuesday classes are $2 and bring participants should bring their own lunch. Thursday classes are $3 with a provided lunch.

Updated: October 29, 2013 3:18AM



When the clock strikes 12 noon inside Marquette Park United Methodist Church, a back room transforms into a place of serenity for a group of mature women.

With only the sun’s light coming in and soft music playing, the women head to their chairs on top of separate mats and begin 30 minutes of chair yoga.

Yoga instructor David Potesta, 46, sits in front of his students and talks them through stretches, strengthening repetitions and meditation.

There’s also a mix of humor, light conversation and some gossip without missing a beat.

The class is part of the church’s Senior Wellness program and began in November with classes on Wednesdays along with lunched provided by Meals on Wheels.

More than a month ago the class was moved to Tuesdays and Thursdays with a BYOL or Bring Your Own Lunch on Tuesdays and a home-cooked lunch at the church on Thursdays.

“I am 87 years old and I have been doing chair yoga since they started classes,” said Mary Ann McDonald of Portage.

“I used to do yoga years ago but got away from it. When I heard about the classes here I came back. Yoga keeps my strength up without doing anything strenuous.”

“We recognized that there is a large senior citizen population in the Miller neighborhood and a senior wellness program was one of the visions we had for the church,” Pastor Sharon Baker said.

She added that the response to chair yoga is a good one, with a blend of members and non-members participating.

“David is a certified yoga instructor and is great with the citizens,” Baker said.

Potesta has been a yoga instructor for 13 years after taking yoga to relieve and eventually remove the pains of carpel tunnel syndrome.

“I was a painter and the doctor wanted to do surgery on my hands. I was 30 years old and I said no. I started taking a yoga class and within six months the carpel tunnel syndrome was gone,” he said.

Potesta has taught yoga for four years at the church with one-hour classes every Wednesday night at 6:15 p.m. for $10 a class after a free session.

“That class is more intense and the crowd is younger. But the chair class has some intense moments too and those ladies do great. It’s all about strengthening the core and being more flexible,” he said.



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