Chair yoga provides you with all the benefits of yoga, even if you cannot get to the floor. If you can move and breathe, you can do yoga!
The aim of yoga is to live with awareness and equanimity, steadiness and ease, irrespective of our condition. Unfortunately, most people see the images of a strong, young, and toned person in an incredibly challenging pose and associate this image with the only way to practice yoga. That is why many people come to me initially saying, I am not flexible enough to do yoga. My aim is to provide my students with an environment that provides safety, inclusivity, sustainability while they can enjoy the benefits of many different areas of yoga.
Historically, yoga originated as a meditation practice. It was aimed to connect body, mind and breath. The breath is your life energy. It is the gateway to your nervous system. Deep and slow breathing stimulates your vagus nerve. The vagus nerve is the longest nerve in your body and connects your brain to many important organs. As a key part of your parasympathetic ‘rest and digest’ nervous system, it influences your digestive function and heart rate. This will influence your ability to cope with stress and anxiety and improve your ability to focus. The Australian Lymphology Association (ALA) describes the benefits of the 3part yoga breath as ‘clearing the lymph, mobilising the spine and improve function and overall health.’ They also recommend finishing your practice with chanting OM to clear the lymphatic system. Although chair yoga is safe and inclusive, there are a few contraindications that you must be aware of. If you suffer from Arthritis, COPD, Diabetes, Hypertension, Osteoporosis or had a stroke, talk to your teacher before starting a regular practice. Otherwise, chair yoga is for everyone. You can use any chair that is available to you and for those of us who need a wheelchair, you can still enjoy a fulfilling yoga practice. You will be surprised how challenging chair yoga poses can be. Studies have shown stunning increases in the areas of functional strength, balance and flexibility over a period of 6 weeks of regular practice.
Yoga can help with many physical and mental challenges we face.
- Yoga promotes free flow of body fluids, which is a great benefit if you suffer from lymphoedema. While performing yoga always remember to breathe, to strengthen your diaphragm and facilitate free flow of lymph. - Yoga will also help you to regain range of motion.
- Seniors who practice yoga can keep their minds sharper. They are able to reduce stress and focus more. They are able to keep their mind engaged, which is one of the essential ingredients to delaying the onset of Alzheimer’s. Practicing yoga helps improve mental focus and memory.
- According to the National Institutes of Health, many people find that adding complementary or alternative medicine (CAM) approaches, like yoga, provides additional relief. Yoga helps manage the symptoms of chronic pain. Gentle stretching can help alleviate the stiffness commonly associated with musculoskeletal disorders such as arthritis. Yoga also teaches coping techniques by remaining present to the various physical sensations and emotions that are commonly ass