LFC's community programme, Red Neighbours, has been hosting virtual chair-based yoga sessions to keep elderly locals fit at home during the coronavirus pandemic.

Red Neighbours' chair-based yoga is aimed at local residents looking to retain their physical fitness, increase mobility and keep active with age.

The sessions - originally based at Anfield - have been taking place since 2018 but have adapted to the ongoing government guidelines regarding coronavirus.

Each Monday and Thursday, yoga instructor Debbie Dubois is joined by 19 participants for her virtual chair-based yoga sessions through an online video service, giving everybody the chance to stay fit, healthy and connected from the comfort of their own home.

Ann Coffey, a retired headteacher from Liverpool, has been attending the virtual yoga sessions during isolation in a bid to build up mobility and strength following her recovery from breast cancer. 

Ann has seen various physical improvements in areas in which she once struggled with during her recovery. 

"I've found these sessions have made a massive difference," Ann said. 

"The muscles in my right-hand side and in my right arm were once so tight but through participation in the yoga, I've found that the difference in my arm has been amazing. I could never put my hands behind my back but now I can. I've been showing all my friends in the sessions what I can do - the difference it has made to me has been incredible!"

Elderly isolation is an ongoing issue across the community and with the current period of isolation due to COVID-19, loneliness is a concern now more than ever. 

The Red Neighbours team and instructor Debbie work to bring everyone together not only for the benefit of their physical health but mental health, too. 

Margaret Thorley - better known by the rest of the group as 'Margi' - has been joining in on the yoga sessions with her husband Joe while in isolation.

Aside from the physical benefits brought through the yoga sessions, it is the social interaction which also makes a lasting difference on the 75-year-old.  

"I am a sociable person - I just love people," said Margaret. "It is that aspect of the yoga session that I love. I enjoy the exercise, don't get me wrong, but it's just so nice to talk to people.

"The online sessions are great, even my husband is joining in and loving it. For us, it's the breathing and stretching that we benefit from - if we didn't have these, I think we'd both become couch potatoes!"

The use of technology has been pivotal in keeping everybody connected while at home, and the online sessions have proven accessible for all participants of the chair-based yoga. 

"The online video facilities are fantastic for keeping everybody in touch," said Maria Walsh, a new participant of chair-based yoga. 

"People have learnt a lot more about IT - even older people who don't usually touch technology have had to make the effort and in turn, have learnt so much - it's great. 

"It's just a lovely atmosphere. Everybody is there for each other and kind to one another, which is just lovely.

"For anybody thinking about getting involved, just give it a go. I could not recommend it more for flexibility and for a chat with all of the lovely ladies."

Social isolation is one of the key focus areas for the Red Neighbours programme and chair-based yoga is one of many initiatives introduced to keep locals connected during this difficult time. 

The sessions are free of charge and open to everyone. All abilities welcome. Contact Christine.mounsey@liverpoolfc.com for more details.

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