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Try Chair Yoga to Retain or Gain Mobility

May 05, 2014
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The relaxation and mindfulness benefits of yoga are not only for people who have full range of motion in all their limbs. Increasingly, as yoga studios seek to create a niche for themselves and indeed as we Canadians move toward an ever-more-accessible society, Chair Yoga is becoming more popular by the year.

Points North, on CBC News recently recorded a feature segment on the benefits of Chair Yoga which started with the basic tenet that people who will practice this type of yoga are doing so because of a limited range of motion. Chair Yoga poses are designed for those people who have a disability or who are confined to a chair at work. It is important to remember that people using Chair Yoga are doing so because they have trouble getting up and down from the floor.

As the instructor moves through the explanations of the basic guidelines of Chair Yoga, she confesses that after her most recent Chair Yoga session, she was fatigued and sore in different muscle groups than she experiences with her standard yoga practice.

She articulates that yoga should be accessible to everyone and that this is the fundamental tenet behind the Chair or Gentle Yoga movement. The movement embraces people of all abilities and differences. Increasingly as the Canadian population ages, it becomes a conversation about how we can stay active without losing mobility. Options like Chair Yoga and gentle Tai Chi are great alternatives to the gym.

 

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The other clear benefit of any kind of yoga is the mindfulness that the practice brings to the self. Moving through the poses allows the mind to grow quiet and focus on the present moment in a peaceful way.

In short, the instructor emphasizes that there are no negatives to chair yoga. For beginner Chair Yoga poses, Spark People has created an easy-to-follow resource that outlines eight of the most common poses with written instruction about safe maneuvering. Unfortunately, bearing in mind that most people who practice Chair Yoga are doing so because they need the support of a chair, two of the poses are invalidated by these criteria as the student is shown on the floor and bent over at a right angle using only her hands to hold the chair.

As the practice evolves, it would be very helpful to find some high-quality Youtube videos produced specifically for people who have a limited range of motion. When the search was made, most of the videos were of able-bodied people who, like the Spark People guide, miss the point of a practitioner who is not able to move around their chair as part of the practice. Regardless, whatever is learned and accomplished from the Chair Yoga practice is to our benefit, as in the words of BK Iyengar, “Yoga teaches us to cure what need not be endured and endure what cannot be cured.”

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