CHARLESTON, W.Va. — Cars and trucks and trains and barges cruise by at a frenzied pace. The University of Charleston’s crew team glides by, while fishermen troll the banks for the day’s catch.
In this swirl of activity, there’s a calm on Magic Island on Tuesday mornings that draws a few dozen people to relax, focus and stretch — at 6 a.m.
Deb Mattingly, a physical therapist and yoga instructor, leads an outdoor yoga class on Tuesday mornings throughout the summer, sponsored by the Family Resource Center at Charleston Area Medical Center.
Mattingly has taught yoga in the Kanawha County school system for six years, but two years ago Denise Burgess of the CAMC Family Resource Center suggested she start a free yoga class. An eclectic mix of yoga enthusiasts, at all levels of yoga competency and from various walks of life, meet at the public spot by the Kanawha River every week, mats in hand.
“We’ve had a father and son, mothers and daughters and people of all ages,” Mattingly said.
The group faces the river, while Mattingly faces the class, looking toward Kanawha Boulevard.
“Angle yourself toward the river,” Mattingly calmly instructs her followers as they practice the “warrior” pose. “Look up at the sky.” The flexible leader acknowledges that it’s a joy to be outdoors, to be able to point to the river and sky as reference points.
“You can hear the noise around you, but it disappears once the class starts,” Mattingly said in her serene, soft voice. She uses a microphone to ensure that her directions are heard over the din of traffic.
Mattingly taught other yoga classes for CAMC under the Wellness Committee’s auspices but passed the instructor role to another leader, who continues to teach those classes at Memorial Division.
Denise Chiartas, a cardiac rehab nurse who teaches the Dean Ornish program to cardiac patients as well as a six-week “Spectrum” class on stress management, now offers the yoga class to CAMC employees, families and friends from 4 to 5:15 p.m. Mondays and from 5 to 6:15 p.m. Wednesdays in the Vascular Center Conference Room. These classes cost $10 for four classes. For information, call 304-388-9411.
The next session of the Magic Island class will begin June 7 and will run for eight weeks, through July 26, from 6 to 7 a.m. every Tuesday. Participants are encouraged to bring their own mat, and because of the outdoor environment, Mattingly said it is helpful to place something a bit sturdier under a regular yoga mat like a blanket.
The Magic Island class is free, and more information is available at 304-388-2545.
Reach Sara Busse at sara.bu…@wvgazette.com or 304-348-1249.
Written by Sara Busse of Charleston Gazette.