As a yoga teacher I am privileged to instruct friends and family from time to time. However, when it came to teaching my parents it was a different story. With assistance they were able to make it to the yoga mat, but it just was not comfortable. That motivated me to find something better for them. I decided to get certified in Chair Yoga, which I now teach several times a week!
A growing need
We have a culture of people sitting more than ever, both at work and home. As the baby boomer generation ages, members seek wellness activities that fit their needs. Chair yoga is a wonderful way to stay healthy, and it can be done anywhere—at work, home, on a bus or even a plane. It can help with many different health issues, including rheumatoid arthritis, osteoarthritis, fibromyalgia, Parkinson’s disease and many chronic pain issues.
Chair yoga is beneficial because it helps to strengthen muscles, increase balance and gain flexibility without causing strain. In addition, it helps with body awareness, mindfulness and relaxation while incorporating gratitude in daily life.
Bringing it all together
A variety of exercises and practices used in chair yoga assist the body and mind. Chair yoga incorporates breathing exercises to increase body awareness and oxygen in the blood. Ball therapy enables people to perform self-massage, especially of the feet, which might be hard to reach otherwise. “Brain dancing” uses a sequence of movements that requires mental focus and improves coordination. Laughter meditation and other mindfulness techniques help guide participants to find joy in the present moment.
Chair yoga classes tend to create a consistent community (kula) of dedicated people who attend regularly, which further enhances everyone’s happiness.
Teaching with gratitude
Teaching chair yoga has given me the chance to serve a population for whom yoga on the mat is not an option. After every class I see positive effects. Participants have lessened their anxieties, fears and worries. They leave with smiling faces, eyes full of hope and lightness in their step. Witnessing the change fills me with gratitude for the gift of being present while teaching and learning at the same time.
Alka Kaminer is a blogger, photographer and yoga instructor in New York. Find out more about Alka at PresentWisdom.com.