Not Just for Baby Boomers: Chair Yoga May Be for You
Feb 25, 2016 09:48PM
by Anne Maxfield Wilkinson
For those of us, spearheading the “Baby Boom” explosion, time is starting to catch up. If we are fortunate enough to still be here, we may find that getting around has become more difficult. As our bodies age, stiffness and pain can be frequent companions. Fortunately, however, the world of exercise is offering solutions.
Having practiced Hatha Yoga for many years, (though, to my sorrow, inconsistently) I came to a point where sitting cross legged and doing poses on my knees became uncomfortable—even painful. So, I quit again. Then, I learned about Chair Yoga.
Nearing my seventh decade of practice, I feel the urge to share my discoveries about Chair Yoga with those who might benefit from it. Garden of the Heart Yoga Center, a long-time Sarasota establishment where I had previously participated in “Gentle Yoga” classes, recently introduced Chair Yoga as an option in January 2016.
When my limitations became harder to ignore, I asked if they taught Chair Yoga, as I had heard it could be a panacea for people like me. At that time, they did not. So, when I learned they had begun to offer two classes each week, I had to give it a try.
I attended my first class with some trepidation, but soon discovered that many yoga poses can be improvised while sitting in a chair, standing with a chair for support or standing with hands against a wall for balance and stretch options. After an hour of twisting, bending, reaching and balancing on alternating legs, I had actually “worked up a sweat.” I felt just as exercised as with any other routine, but not as stressed or resentful of my limitations. Instead, I was encouraged by the creativity of my instructor who adapted a good selection of restorative movements to a “chair scenario.” Plus, the final relaxation meditation was just a rewarding as ever.
Harmony Ananda, who teaches one of the two Chair Yoga classes at Garden of the Heart on Mondays, adds the ingredients of forgiveness and love to each routine by asking participants to massage and send love to the knees, hips, shoulders, hands, and wherever there is tightness or pain. I have stopped saying to myself, “my knees are killing me”—not a very positive thought—and focus instead on understanding and care. Another class is available on Fridays, taught by Eva Saunders, and each session is a comfortable one hour in length.
So, if you need exercise—and don’t we all—a gentle and supportive method of stretching and strengthening the body, while soothing and relaxing our busy minds, might just be Chair Yoga. If you have reached a certain age, are recovering from an operation or illness, or simply don’t enjoy those trendy high-powered exercise regimens, give this alternative a try. Not yet a fad, but possibly soon to become one, Chair Yoga classes are frequently small and personalized, with moves designed specifically for you and others like you.
Garden of the Heart Yoga Center, located at 2888 Ringling Blvd., Sarasota, offers Chair Yoga classes on Mondays and Fridays, 2–3 p.m. For further information, call 941-341-9781 or visit GardenoftheHeartYoga.com.