Building community, one pose at a time
Posted: November 28, 2016
They say yoga has numerous benefits for its practitioners, with stress relief being one of them.
And when you can participate in a yoga class with your peers, close to home, it's inevitable your stress level will drop even more. In East St. Paul, there are more than 40 members - including two men - in the yoga program, held at the 55+ Activity Centre, who will attest to that.
Louise Chernetz started the program almost four years ago when she brought a yoga instructor to the senior centre. Participation has grown year after year.
"I think we started out at about 10 people and now we have 47 people," Chernetz said.
"Most of us take three classes a week, because we're able to keep the costs really low."
Chernetz was honoured with a Certificate of Recognition from the Manitoba Council on Aging on Oct. 28 at the Manitoba Legislative Building. The award was for Chernetz's "outstanding contributions creating age-friendly communities".
She was nominated for the award by three fellow yoga enthusiasts in Charlene Erb, Cathy Cross and Linda Semkiw.
Erb said they wanted to nominate Chernetz for the award because they truly appreciate her motivation to bring the program here and her work in keeping it going.
"I guess in the beginning it was only (a few) people, but she persevered. For use to have this in our community, five minutes from our homes, is just absolutely unbelievable," Erb said.
"This is why we're so thankful to her."
Chernetz humbly accepted the award, but joked that her motivation for bringing yoga to her home community simply stemmed from a desire to get from Point A to Point B quicker.
"It's a nice recognition that's for sure, though I feel that it's a little undeserved because I basically started the yoga club so I wouldn't have to drive into the city to take yoga," she laughed.
She complimented her friends on keeping the nomination a secret and said she didn't find out about it until a letter arrived informing her of the award.
"It was quite a surprise. They didn't consult with me," she laughed.
Chernetz said she used to take classes in Oakbank first and then Winnipeg. Eventually, she simply asked her yoga instructor if she'd be interested in teaching in East St. Paul. Krista Nicholson said yes, and has been instructing the crew even since.
They started with one class per week and are now up to three classes, in both beginner and intermediate levels. And there are three instructors now as well. All classes are in the morning but in the new year, they're hoping to start a Tuesday evening class.
Chernetz coordinates the program, including advertising, collecting fees, paying for instructors and the space, and charting attendance. She said they do an evaluation every June to allow all members to have some input in to what they'd like to see happen with the program.
"We try different offerings because we want to try to accommodate the people who are coming out," she said.
Though Chernetz said she's been doing yoga on and off for most of her adult life, she now finds even more reason to participate.
"I was recently diagnosed with Parkinson's and I find that the yoga is really helpful for flexibility, strength and balance and that's my primary motivating factor, to get those skills for my own health," she said, adding she'd encourage others with health issues to consider yoga as well.
In the last month, 230 people showed up for classes on all three days. Chernetz said they all appreciate being able to use the senior centre.
"The nice thing for me is they're such a cohesive group right now, and newcomers feel welcome within the first session or so. People are so friendly and they are so appreciative to have this facility and this exercise right here in our community. I get lots of feedback about that. We're very grateful to the senior centre and the municipality for making that possible in our community," Chernetz said.
"It is lovely that we have this."
For more information on the yoga program, please contact Chernetz at email@example.com.