Chair Yoga for Health, Freedom and Radiance
Are you looking for a healthy, safe and easy way to do yoga, even if you have mobility issues?
Chair Yoga, a gentle workout you can do in a chair, is the new rage here in Paynesville, and I want to see it expand out to the world. It’s a truly gentle way to welcome back your healthy movement, healing, strength and joint mobility, even if you have mobility issues.
If you have avoided yoga because you can’t get on the floor, can’t stand for too long, have joint pain, or you have other factors that limit your mobility, we have adapted traditional yoga to be used with a stable chair or locked wheelchair.
So many people believe that ageing or injury means they have to physically decline or just give up. I know as much as anyone how it feels to lack mobility. In 2008 I was diagnosed with Rheumatoid Arthritis and was in too much pain to move, and could barely walk for 12 months. It has been a long slow process but 10 years later I’m fitter and stronger than ever.
By doing gentle but powerfully effective workouts in a chair, you too can regain your best body and mind, inside and out.
To get you started, let’s do a few really easy exercises. So go get your chair (a stable chair or a wheelchair with brakes… but otherwise no wheels!)
Exercise 1: Nourishing Breath
Sit upright but relaxed in your chair. Close your eyes and place both of your hands on your belly with your fingers just touching. First connect to your breath. As you inhale, feel your belly expand and notice how your fingers part as you breathe. As you exhale feel your belly contract and notice your fingers come back together. Don’t change the breath, just relax and feel the belly rise and fall in response to that inhale and exhale. Do this for at least 10 breaths. Notice how your body begins to relax.
Exercise 2: Neck Freedom
With your eyes open, sitting tall in your chair, inhale then exhale and slowly drop your chin towards your chest, feeling the stretch in the back of the neck and down into the shoulder blades. This is where everyone holds tension when they sit at a desk all day, or even just sitting and reading a book! Now inhale and raise your chin slowly to the ceiling, feeling the stretch in the front of the throat. Careful not to let the head drop. Do this slowly and with control. Continue the up and down chin lifts in line with your breath from 3 to 5 cycles.
Now slowly exhale as you lower your right ear to your right shoulder, keeping your head facing front. Only your neck should be moving. Feel the stretch on the left side of the neck. Now inhale as you raise your head and then lower your left ear to left shoulder, feeling the stretch on the right side of the neck. Do this a few times.
Exercise 3: Sunshine Twist
Sitting tall in your chair, lift your arms up with elbows bent so you have your upper arms at a direct angle to your body and hands pointing up. Inhale, and as you exhale rotate your torso slowly so you are facing to the left. Inhale and turn toward the front, then exhale as your slowly rotate to the right. Your head will move with the torso. Continue this in a slow flowing movement to stimulate and open up the spine, and pump hydrating fluids into the spaces between the vertebrae.
If you would like to experience Chair Yoga with me, I offer regular classes in Paynesville, Victoria, Australia. Not local? Stay at our vintage Raymond Island Tudor Cottages and take the Chair Yoga class while you’re here!