Relax and get fit with yoga

Loomis studio offers gentler alternative to traditional methods
By: Laura O'Brien, Gold Country News Service correspondent
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Yoga facts

May be beneficial for a number of conditions, including pain

Generally considered to be safe in healthy people when practiced appropriately 

People with high blood pressure, glaucoma, or sciatica and women who are pregnant should modify or avoid some poses

Practice safely and mindfully. Poses should be modified based on individual abilities.  Select instructors carefully. Should be experienced and attentive to individual’s needs. Inform instructor about any medical issues.

Talk to your health care providers about any complementary health practices you use, including yoga.  Give them a full picture of what you do to manage your health.  This will help ensure coordinated and safe care.

Source: National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine



Where: 3587 Taylor Road, Loomis

Information: (916) 303-0621,

Seniors are among those turning to yoga for fitness and relaxation. 

Acknowledging that trend, BridgeYoga, a Loomis yoga studio, began offering a chair yoga class last fall.

Use of a chair limits the need to move the body down to the floor and back up to a standing position, a sequence typical in yoga that may be difficult for some seniors.

“If you’re dealing with some physical constraints—either age, or weight, or injury, or illness—the chair class and the restorative class are the way to go,” said Sherri Conway, who opened BridgeYoga on Taylor Road across from Blue Goose Produce last May with yoga partner Casey Bird. 

Yoga has become popular as a health treatment, according to the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine, a program of the National Institutes of Health.

Some research suggests yoga may be medically beneficial.  Possible benefits include reduced low-back pain; improved quality of life; reduced stress; lower heart rate and blood pressure; reduced anxiety, depression, and insomnia; and improved overall fitness. 

For students at BridgeYoga, yoga represents a valuable part of their weekly routine.

In a space once used as a funeral parlor, but now featuring a statue of Buddha, seven women sat atop sturdy black wooden chairs on a recent Thursday morning.  Light streamed into the room from an adjacent plant-filled atrium. 

Cheryl Hoffman, 68, attends chair yoga twice a week, on Tuesdays and Thursdays.

“It’s slower-paced.  Anybody can do it,” said Hoffman, who suffers from arthritis.

She practiced traditional yoga in the past, but found that the downward dog position hurt her wrists and other standing positions bothered her knee. She likes that people with limited mobility don’t feel intimidated in chair yoga.

“We do all the moves, but we do them in chairs,” Hoffman said.  “If you can’t reach the floor, you can reach the chair, which is there in this case for balance if you need it.  Of course (the instructor) always encourages everybody to go as far as you can.”

Jan Cherrstrom, 64, also formerly practiced yoga, but injured her leg, making traditional yoga more difficult.

“I take (chair yoga) because getting up and down off the floor in regular yoga … it’s hard.”

Cherrstrom and Hoffman said they enjoy chair yoga so much they take other chair yoga classes in addition to those at BridgeYoga.

Bird said she and Conway began offering chair yoga when they realized they needed a class option that was accessible to everyone. 

“We had a mixture of people showing up for the classes that we had on our schedule and some people would be not challenged enough and some people would be really challenged,” she said.  

Registered yoga teacher Jenn Harrison teaches chair yoga and initially proposed the class that was initially offered for six weeks.

“It went so well that we kept it,” Bird said.  “We’ve got our regulars that come.”

Patty Espinoza is one of those regulars.  She has taken several of the different classes at BridgeYoga since the studio opened last year.

“I really have to talk to myself to get here, but once I get here?  Love it,” Espinoza said.  “This is the best thing that’s happened to Loomis.”

A cancer survivor, she said yoga has helped her bones strengthen to the point where she no longer needs medication for bone loss. 

In addition to the exercise, Hoffman said she enjoys the camaraderie of the chair yoga class. 

“Because we’re all the same age we have (the same) history references,” she said.