Looking back on it now, I’m not entirely sure I knew what to think when I thought of chair yoga. It was offered during the day, so while I might have seen it on the schedule, it wasn’t often that it was on a day or time near my schedule when I looked up available classes to take. However, as part of a weekend-long workshop I took the other weekend, I had the opportunity for not only an introduction, but one full day of learning.
The chair offers the ability to practice without getting up and down from the floor – though there may still be getting up and down from the chair – which can be difficult for a variety of reasons and yes, age. If choosing to practice some of the postures standing, the chair is still there to offer support and stability. Over the weekend it was incredibly interesting to see how the poses were translated to the chair, and with options for both seated and standing versions.
For example, tadasana, mountain pose. In mountain, we stand tall, strong, and open. There is engagement in numerous parts of the body as we stack up the body with shoulders over hips over ankles, arms open by the side and the chin parallel to the floor. It is a deceptively simple pose, and a powerful one. Seated is very similar. Seated in a chair, the body can still be stacked tall – of course with the hinge for the actual seat – with that subtle engagement throughout the body and arms still open at the sides.
And an additional benefit from the class was seeing not just how a class could be structured around the chair, but also how some of the poses could translate to “the desk”. There were a few poses where I thought “hmmm, this might be a good way to get a little stretch and a little movement after sitting at my desk for several hours.” It actually made me more aware of how inactively I may sit, and that just a little bit of pressing my feet firmly into the floor engages my legs. And something like that is readily transferable to my desk.
The Mat Yoga Studio offers Senior/Chair yoga three times a week. We took a somewhat shortened class as part of the training, and one thing I remember is feeling quite a bit energized from it. After a full weekend of workshops, I thought that any kind of class might be a bit of a challenge energetically speaking. But stretching the body, a little bit of movement and feeling like I was getting the blood circulating once again – so to speak – felt really good.
In addition to the chair, there may be other modifications for joint replacements and other health conditions, so if this sounds of interest, speak with your doctor first and let your teacher know if there are certain areas where you may like to modify. This was just an introduction for me and I still have a lot more to learn. As with so much in life, you have to begin somewhere!
This is the part of a series of posts for The Mat yoga studio, sharing my thoughts and observations as a student only. The views and opinions are my own.