September, 2014

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Chair Yoga

Extended-Side-Angle

When you picture people practicing yoga, do you imagine impossibly supple, young people bent into all sorts of shapes no human should be able to get themselves into?

If so, then you’d be surprised to hear that yoga can be incredibly beneficial for people with mobility issues, including elderly people and those with disabilities. What’s more, yoga can be practiced not just from the comfort of your own home, but even from the comfort of your own chair!

Star Pose

Benefits Of Chair Yoga

Yoga has been shown to improve overall health, prevent and (even in some cases) reverse disease when practiced regularly as a lifestyle. With this in mind, it’s no surprise that it can therefore lend its benefits to those with mobility issues. Here are some of them:

1. Improved Strength

This means that elderly people will be better able to continue with hobbies and daily activities independently for many more years to come. If they are unlucky enough to suffer a fall or injury, a strong body will be able to withstand this better and sustain fewer injuries.

2. Improved Flexibility

Chair yoga can help those with mobility issues to undertake activities that they have perhaps been unable to, such as reaching down to tie shoe laces or pick things up.

3. Improved Proprioception

Proprioception is the skill of knowing where your body is in space, and coordinating your movements accurately. This is particularly important for elderly people and can prevent falls. For people with disabilities or conditions such as MS, it may mean having greater control over your body and its movements.

4. Reduced Stress And Improved Mental Clarity

Chair yoga can lessen the impact of chronic illnesses and pain. For elderly people, it may also help them cope with feelings of isolation, if this is a problem. Being calmer and more relaxed inevitably leads to a greater feeling of happiness and well-being, which everyone can benefit from!

5. Opportunities To Meet People And Socialize

Joining chair yoga classes for those with mobility issues and the elderly will also give them a venue to socialize and make friends. However, it’s important that you choose an appropriate class so that the instructor will have specific knowledge about what is appropriate for you to do—they’ll be able to suitably adapt the exercises.

6. Improved Stress And Pain Management

Chair yoga (and yoga in general, really) includes breath work, which can help people not only with stress management but also for coping and managing pain. Through meditation and paying attention to your breath, you can help your body and mind to cope with the pain of an illness or condition you may suffer with.

Chair Yoga Poses

I have provided some examples of yoga poses and postures below that can be done from the comfort of a chair covering a range of abilities. These postures all promote flexibility and strength.

Chair yoga 1

Chair yoga - forward bend

chair yoga - extended side angle

chair yoga - forward bend -shoulder stretch

chair yoga - seated spinal twist

Star pose -2

Chair yoga - table pose

The great thing with yoga is that it can be adapted to suit anyone’s needs. The aim is to work with your body rather than against it, therefore ruling out any competitiveness, which can lead you to push yourself too far and do yourself harm.

It’s an effective and gentle way to improve your strength and flexibility in a way that can compliment your current medical interventions, therapies and exercises. With a regular practice, you will soon be reaping the benefits that go well beyond the ones outlined above.

Have you tried chair yoga?

*All images are courtesy of the author and Multiyork

Multiyork

We recently teamed up with London’s Special Yoga to gather some great poses together that we can all do from the comfort of our own homes. If you’re not familiar with Special Yoga, they specialise in delivering yoga as a therapeutic treatment in the special needs community and offer training programs for yoga teachers, parents and pediatric professionals to enable them to reach out to and help even more children with disabilities.

Special Yoga showed us that you can enjoy some yoga poses from the comfort of your own, sofa! With yoga’s credentials as a gentle form of exercise that can calm the mind and improve your wellbeing, where better to do it than your sofa… the place in the home where we most often go to unwind after a busy day.

Starting with a gentle warm up in the Siddhasana position you can become aware of any tension in your body, particularly in the shoulders and jaw. Take a nice deep breath in and out as you feel yourself sinking into the sofa. You can do this for a few minutes until you feel truly calm and ready to move on to the other suggested poses. This exercise also works on it’s own as a meditative exercise to help quiet the mind.

Yoga 1   Yoga 2

Yoga is about feeling a nice stretch, breathing naturally, working with rather than against your body and letting go of tension, so when trying out the poses, only stretch as far as feels nice and for as long as feels comfortable. Stop immediately if you feel any pain. Keep checking your body to make sure you aren’t screwing up your face, hunching your shoulders or holding your breath. Repeat poses a number of times and you may find your flexibility increases with each try, particularly as you exhale in each position! It certainly will if practiced regularly over weeks and years.

Yoga 3 Yoga 4

Once you’re familiar with these poses, you’ll always have them available to draw on after a long day at work. They can act as a great way to switch off and loosen up before snuggling up to watch your favourite programme and of course for the more ambitious amongst you, over time yoga can make your body strong, supple and able to perform some amazing feats!

Yoga 5 Yoga 6

Yoga 7 Yoga 8

Create the right mood prior to your Yoga session.  You need a quiet and peaceful setting to practice in with ample space to stretch out. Dim the lights, use soft music and rid your space of any distractions.  The phone ringing, music blaring and children interrupting you might not get you in the right frame of mind for calming, relaxing beneficial yoga.

You can also practice Yoga whilst seated in a chair.  For more details and for 6 benefits of Chair Yoga + 8 new poses sitting down to help with mobility problems visit  http://www.doyouyoga.com/6-benefits-of-chair-yoga-8-poses-to-get-you-started/
Read more at http://www.multiyork.co.uk/blog/september-2014/yoga-at-home#I64grmGkmfhBEb3v.99