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Benefits of Chair Yoga PDF Print E-mail

By Teresa Valenzuela

When considering a Chair Yoga practice, it’s a common belief that the term refers to senior citizens, people with disabilities, the overweight or obese

. Many have expressed surprise that it can relate to office employees, people sitting at a desk for hours, and those that ignore the benefits of certain postures and stretches in their own limited space. Many would rather refer to this as Corporate Chair Yoga. Young, healthy, active individuals who are candidates for blood clots, Carpal Tunnel Syndrome, arm, neck and shoulder discomfort and stiffness, not to mention high anxiety levels and stress are all candidates.

Chair Yoga is commonly directed towards Senior Centers, Assisted Living Facilities, Nursing Homes, Rehabilitation Centers, Adult Day Care Centers, and general workout facilities (gyms), where the population increasingly demands this practice. All these different facilities offer the population different needs. Working with individuals in different mobile situations requires specialized knowledge and a willingness to adapt and modify our practice.

Regular Chair Yoga practice benefits the body and mind. It benefits every body part because it increases blood circulation, improves feet, toes, hand and finger movements, improves balance, stimulates the elimination of body toxins, improves posture, flexibility and mobility, muscle and bone health.

It benefits the mind, in a sense that it provides certain independence, and increases self-esteem in the life and person of those who practice it. The connection that we make in Yoga of Body, Mind and Spirit, have full meaning in Chair Yoga practice.

The social factor involved as well should not be ignored. Chair Yoga is a yoga practice that is offered in facilities that welcome and provide the appropriate environment for sharing with others who have similar physical conditions. I just participated as a member in a Chair Yoga in a senior center and the participants were there on time, were very cheerful and had arranged the room with chairs, mats, and props, so that when the instructor arrived they were ready to begin. They knew exactly what they needed and as an observer of the class, a first timer, they gave me full and detailed instructions of what to expect. They felt strongly against going down on the floor, and “warned” me they didn’t “do that” in their class. Which is fine, I understand not all Chair Yoga groups feel comfortable sitting or lying on the floor and definitely shouldn’t have to. The positive energy in the room was encouraging.

On a personal note, I couldn’t help imagining my mother in that group. If only she would have had the chance to be exposed to Chair Yoga when she was going through her long and painful Osteoporosis illness. I saw her go from using a cane (for her balance), to a walker, to a wheelchair and finally, bedridden. The benefits of a chair and the right instructions would have made such a difference in her life physically, emotionally, and socially. Not to mention her diminished self-esteem and dignity. Not to mention, it would have aided her diminished self esteem and dignity.

I have benefited greatly from the video series “Benefits of Chair Yoga”, offered by Paul Jerard and the Aura Wellness Center Newsletters of November and December.

In the video of the November 3rd, 2009 Newsletter, Paul talks about, “How seniors are concerned about their mobility…concerns with their independence…having better quality of life…how mobility affects mental and emotional health…and the balance factor: fall preventions, outdoor slipping and falling in bad weather or indoor accidents…”(Paul Jerard)

In the Part I video of the November 17th, 2009 Newsletter, “Benefits of Chair Yoga for Your Students,” Paul talks about the different situations where Chair Yoga can be practiced: “individuals in the office area, rehab centers due to an injury or illness, or seniors.” As Chair Yoga instructors we must be aware of pre-existing conditions and genetic conditions, such as arthritis or osteoporosis. Chair Yoga can help to relieve pain in anyway… (Paul Jerard).

In the Part III video of the December 1st, 2009 Newsletter, “Benefits of Chair Yoga for Your Students,” Paul introduces the benefits of Pranayama breathing practice depending on the conditions of the group, and how proper posture practiced with Chair Yoga is beneficial for senior’s walking and sleeping as straight as possible.

In the Part IV video of the December 8, 2009 Newsletter, Paul talks about how we “can incorporate Hatha Yoga to Chair Yoga…”and the “positive effect on the mind and body” (Paul Jerard).

Finally, I can’t find a better way to end my essay on The Benefits of Chair Yoga, than to quote Paul Jerard’s words in his article “Teaching Hatha Yoga for Beginners”, Newsletter, October 20, 2009. He asserts, “…when we work with students who have unique problems, or less than ideal conditions, we learn, and they learn from us…”



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