Yes, Chair Supported Yoga is a wonderful option for anyone recovering from injury or illness. Yes, a Chair Supported practice is accessible to those with limited mobility, those who may not be able to support weight standing, or those who struggle with balance and dizziness issues or with going from standing to sitting on the floor and getting up again. But what I love most about practicing in the chair, is that without the burden of weight bearing on the joints, yogis of any level of mobility and experience are able to get more deeply into poses and explore the safest, most accessible alignment for their individual body mechanics. This in turn allows for a deeper connection with the breath and a more sustainable linking of breath and movement. The end result is an uplifting yoga practice that fully integrates body, mind and spirit.
I started developing a Chair Supported Practice 4 years ago as an option for some private yoga students who struggled with physical challenges. Though their issues varied, a common thread quickly became obvious. While I knew how much a movement meditation practice could improve their strength and mobility, increase breath capacity, initiate deep relaxation and simply help my students feel better, the struggle to attain alignment in poses, would often negate their potential benefits. I began to research options for people with physical challenges, focusing particularly on the work of Dr. Loren Fishman. His work with folks with Multiple Sclerosis, Osteoporosis, and Scoliosis was central to developing my practice.
But here’s where things started to change for me….as I worked on adapting poses for the variety of needs of the folks I was working with, I began to notice and enjoy how much working in and with a chair was deepening my own practice. Working in the chair was keeping me “honest” in my own alignment. There was no wiggle room to misalign, no opportunity to make a pose look all Instagram fabulous just for the sake of doing so. Instead, I was finding a more fully realized way to BE in a pose, connect with my breath, and let the Yoga do its magic. I have since witnessed this magic transform experienced yogis’ practices as well as allowing those who may not be comfortable in a traditional yoga class experience it, too.
The Chair Supported Classes I offer now truly allow for any level practitioner to work at their own pace within the confines of their individual levels of mobility. Experienced yogis repeatedly tell me how much more of a challenge they find it to be than they initially assumed as they uncover new ways to think about poses and work muscles they hadn’t previously accessed consistently. Like me, they’ve found the chair practice has informed and deepened their regular practice. Yoga is truly a practice FOR ALL. What I love so much about Chair Supported Yoga, is that we can all practice together, as yogis, as humans. What magic!
Please join me on Thursdays, 11:30-12:30, for Chair Supported Yoga. First class is free!