Keep your seat - Chair yoga

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No really, don't get up.  If you are curious about yoga and want to try a gentle practice, chair yoga may be just what you need (even if you don't know it yet).  Whether you are in a desk chair, a conference room chair, or a wheel chair, you can sit and simultaneously become more fit. The chair replaces the yoga mat and becomes an extension of your body allowing you to take advantage of the benefits of yoga without having to bear your full body weight. Benefits of a single session or regular practice of chair yoga include body/breath awareness and relaxation response among others (Melville, 2012).

Why am I such an advocate?  Because, let me be honest, when someone suggested chair yoga to me in 2012,  it definitely provoked images of limitation rather than expansion.  I was very familiar with inclusive, chair dance and had an appreciation for chair exercise primarily for older adults, but chair yoga?  What?  I didn't even really know it was a real thing.  It took a while for me to fall in love with it, but after a few classes and a training, I began to realize that the chair has options that the mat just cannot offer.  A chair yoga practice makes a great addition to your current practice (if you're already regularly on your mat) and also provides a great place to start if you're new to yoga.  It's accessible and gentle in any space in any chair!  After all, yoga begins with your breath whether you are sitting, standing, lying down, or balancing on your head.

Chair yoga is convenient; it can be as simple as pushing away from your desk for a minute of deep, relaxed breathing.  Most of my chair yoga experience has been beginner-intermediate, but chair yoga can also offer more challenging options.  Regardless of your intensity choice, chair yoga increases blood circulation, awakens your body, and refreshes your brain.  Frequent, short chair yoga breaks are ideal. Try this simple sequence of poses below: Collage deckLinking your movement to your breath, complete each set of poses on both sides 2-3 times .  Notice each side of your body as you move and take time to feel each breath.

Take short chair yoga breaks throughout your day to help you refocus your energy and stimulate creativity.

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About Author

Rebecca Allen

Recreation and Fitness Program Coordinator Wellness

Rebecca E. Allen is passionate about helping others develop and nurture practices of well-being.   She earned her BS in Sociology and MA in Exercise and Sport Science and holds fitness certifications from ACE, AFAA, Zumba®, Les Mills™, IFTA, and NESTA.  She is registered with Yoga Alliance as a 500 RYT, and enjoys long walks in the woods with her husband, Chip Davis.

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