Yoga with a Chair

I have been a believer in yoga for much of my life. When I was in my mid-20s, living in NYC and very stressed out for a lot of reasons, I attended my first yoga class. The release I felt from that first class was amazing and I immediately drank the Kool Aid!

Over many years I have joined yoga classes intermittently, usually to try to relieve some kind of physical ailment. I like the way yoga practice pays attention to both the mind and the body because I believe they are completely connected, or at least have been in my case. I am not a hard core yogi…in fact, physically, far from it. I find it hard to pay attention to my body when time is limited. I tend to live more in my mind, but my body has suffered as a result.

That all came to a crashing end this past summer when I was diagnosed with cancer. I had just retired and signed up for my first senior aerobics exercise class and was very motivated to start paying more attention to my health. A couple of days later I developed a pain in my groin, and the rest is history. I soon learned I had cancer of the lymph nodes in my groin. Thank goodness I took the exercise class or I might have found out too late.

Fast forward to almost nine months later and I am back in a yoga class. But this one is different from any other I’ve taken. This one is for people who have restrictive physical conditions or who are entering the “golden years” and struggle with limited flexibility. My body is a wreck from all the chemo treatment; I often feel like someone has beaten me up. Every joint aches. I knew I needed a different approach to exercising for now.

Luckily I live in a town that has a lot to offer…Huntington. So I signed up for QiGong (see an earlier slice), which is new to me and very challenging, and this Chair Yoga class. At first I felt a little awkward about joining because I knew I was identifying with a much older crowd. And I was right…everyone is my age or older. But after the first class I realized I was exactly where I needed to be with a kinder, gentler yoga class and a sympathetic teacher. These women have already become my role models for keeping myself healthier as I age.

And what about the chair in my title? Well, we do many of our positions sitting in a chair which is tremendously helpful when your joints are in pain and you have difficulty getting on and off the floor. The positions all mimic true yoga positions but are adapted to less limber bodies. We also sometimes stand behind or in front of the chair to practice other positions using the chair as a support to lean on. I am now in love with this class. I am ready to shout it from the rooftops: I LOVE CHAIR YOGA!