BETHEL — Starting in mid-January, a chair yoga class will be offered in Bethel.  Greenwood resident Brooke Pillsbury, a  recently certified instructor in the practice, will be teaching the class at the Bethel United Methodist Church on Main Street every Wednesday starting Jan. 15.

Classes will run from 11 a.m. to noon in the annex section of the church.

Participants perform the practice while sitting on a chair or while standing and using the chair as additional stability.

Pillsbury said as long people show up every week, the class will run for the foreseeable future.

“If it takes off, I would consider doing it twice a week,” Pillsbury said.

People interested in taking a class can go to the Facebook page “The Annex BMC”, which is where she will be making announcements. It will also be advertised in the Senior Adult Education flyer and Pillsbury also plans to display flyers around town.

Pillsbury is charging between five to $15 for the class, letting each person decide how much they would like to donate. People do not need to bring anything else and do not have to inform Pillsbury in advance if they are showing up. All ages are welcome to join.

The class is beneficial for people recovering from injuries, struggling with mobility and suffering from chronic pain.

Pillsbury has practiced yoga for ten years and has taught it for 7-8 years.

The Pennsylvania native plans to teach multiple breathing techniques, how people can increase their strength and flexibility

Pillsbury’s reason for starting the class stemmed from a grad school project where she had to create a hypothetical wellness program for a community.

“With Maine having one of the highest aging populations in the country, I was trying to think what would work well here. Then all of a sudden I realized we could use a chair yoga program,” she said.

Pillsbury created a hypothetical eight-week chair yoga class and as she was doing the project, she started wondering what it would take for her to get certified in chair yoga.

“Even though it was just for a project I was telling myself that I have to teach this,” Pillsbury said.

She found a place to earn her official certification and in mid-October of this year she became a certified chair yoga instructor. She went to Kripalu Yoga Center in Massachusetts and was certified by Lakshmi Voelker , a world renowned teacher of the practice.

Voelker is credited with having created Chair Yoga, after one of her students became stricken with arthritis and was no longer able to do it on a mat. She taught chair yoga at the Mayo Clinic for years, Pillsbury said.

Pillsbury is considered a Lakshmi Voelker Chair Yoga Teacher  (LVCYT).

“I think it’s going to be a wonderful opportunity for so many people in this community,” she said. “I hope this reaches a whole new group of people that never would have considered trying out a yoga class.”

Pillsbury emphasized that she does not view chair yoga as job, but more as a “service to her community.”

People doing chair yoga can take any pose they would normally do on a mat and adapt it to the chair.

“It’s great because they can do it a level that is comfortable for them, with all the modifications,” Pillsbury said.

Pillsbury has lived in Greenwood for two years with her husband and three children. Outside of yoga, she enjoys hiking, traveling, reading and cooking.

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