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Thursday, Oct. 2, 2014

YMCA stretches out to entire family with yoga

Saturday, July 12, 2008

(Photo)
Andrew Powell, Staff Yoga instructor Tina Ahlfield (left) instructs participants in the Flexible Families program at the YMCA to do a yoga position called "the tree"
SIKESTON -- The YMCA of Southeast Missouri is encouraging moms and dads everywhere to gather their mind, body and spirit... and their children to try their latest exercise program, Flexible Families.

Originating earlier this summer, Flexible Families is a yoga structured exercise class designed for parents and kids to help them develop their strength, balance and flexibility through stretching and core exercise.

"It's mostly a way to help kids stay active during the summer," said yoga instructor Tina Ahlfield. "A lot of times, especially during the summer when kids are out of school, it's hard to get them out from behind the television.

"But we feel that Flexible Families is a great way for kids to get active, increase their strength and flexibility and also allow families a chance to bond with one another."

YMCA fitness coordinator Kenny Stone agrees that one of the appealing aspects about the program, unlike most of the classes offered at the Y, is that it's completely family oriented.

"We are very happy to have the Flexible Families class," said Stone. "A family exercise class is something that we've been trying to get for a long time.

"And this one really works well because Tina is not only really great with the kids but flexibility is an important part of any workout that is often skipped, especially by children."

Stretching is important to do before and after each work out. It helps to reduce the chance of cramps or stiffness. And it also reduces the chance of pulling a muscle during physical activity.

Ahlfield stated that staying flexible is important for everyone as we age and that yoga is a great way to do this. She also stated that yoga can help develop a good sense of coordination and balance as well as help prevent injuries.

However, while yoga's main focus builds on flexibility, many are skeptical that yoga does not provide a strong enough work out.

"When ever we think of a hard or difficult exercise we often think of fast motion, like a lot of running, jumping or step aerobics," said Stone. "Yoga is very deceptive to a lot of people because of the slow motions. But it can still be just as intense as those other work outs.

"It's not your traditional exercise but the slow motions and poses that Tina puts you through can get very difficult. You have to work out your core a lot and the flexibility pushes your body a lot as well."

Ahlfield agreed that its a lot harder than it looks but you would really have to come to experience it.

"We have a position that we hold for over two minutes called the half plank which really strengthens the core, legs, shoulders and back," said Ahlfield. "It's where we get down on our hands and elbows, flatten our bodies out and then raise up on our toes.

"If anyone wants to try that at home then they should be convinced that yoga is not an easy thing."

If anyone is interested in giving Flexible Families a try it is free to the public and last until August 1. Family classes are on Tuesdays and Thursdays at 2 p.m. while an adult class is offered on Mondays and Thursdays at 7 p.m.