I am now in my third year of teaching Yoga in a Chair. As a Yoga Therapist, I have always been looking for ways to make yoga inclusive allowing real people to discover that yoga is for them as well. My own journey to yoga in a Kapha body made me respect that I was never blessed with natural “bendability” The discovery included the understanding that (real) yoga is so much more than movement (asana) alone. Breath awareness and breathing practices open doors to deeper relaxation, meditation and peace with our very personal experience inside the bodies and minds we were given.
Some of my students taught me how much I was on a rewarding teacher/therapist path as I witnessed their own discoveries and taking ownership of their yoga practice in a chair. Then on the other side, I noticed that there is a little too much pride around Chair Yoga as if “needing” to use a chair is a sign of weakness or decay. All of these experiences motivated me to write this blog.
Let me tell you more about what I learned from my students.
Chair Yoga is:
- Highly adaptable to individual needs offering options such as: staying seated in a chair for the entire practice, using the chair as support in seated or standing movements, using the chair for safety when stepping away from the chair while knowing it is there when you need it
- Confidence building and a rewarding practice
- Empowering for people who thought Yoga is not for them because their mobility is challenged, their body is different or larger than what is considered normal
- Increasing the chance of slowing down the progression of some conditions such as Parkinson’s Disease and MS and helps recover from set-backs that come with the progression of both
- Helping to build strength, cope with pain and numbness and maintain independence
- Supporting preparation for knee and hip surgery by allowing muscles that support the joints to be strengthened
- Helpful for managing pain, anxiety and stress through breathing practice, mindfulness and relaxation
- Assisting rehabilitation and recovery from surgery and accidents by offering safe movements
- Offering aerobic exercise
Chair Yoga can offer all aspects that you may expect from a “real” yoga class, because it is:
- Aerobic and providing cardiovascular benefits “… aerobic exercise is: Any exercise that would increase circulatory and respiratory ability. When the heart and lungs have to work harder to keep up with the body’s need for oxygen that is aerobic.” **
- A form of Hatha Yoga offering breath awareness and practices (Pranayama), relaxation, mindfulness, focus and concentration that may lead to meditation
- Involving all five Koshas (sheaths of the human body that form the holistic approach of yoga to healing and wholeness)
- Inclusive, respecting the diversity of human being as guided in the Yamas and Niyamas included in the Yoga Sutras of Pantajali. These offer internal disciplines that support self-study and ethical guidance for engaging in the world.
- Providing a perfect seat for meditation allowing the body to be at ease and still so that the mind can concentrate on letting go of what is its nature (thoughts, emotions, feelings)
- Strength building for muscles and bones and improving balance and grounding
I hope I have made you curious about Chair Yoga. Maybe you want to try it out or have questions? Do you know someone who you think could benefit? Please feel free to reach out to me or look at my current offerings.
* Took this title from an article in the Yoga Journal by Joanne Spence (https://www.yogaalliance.org/About_Yoga/Article_Archive/Ten_Reasons_to_Do_Chair_Yoga )