02 November 2008

Chair Yoga May Help Those Who Stay Seated

As movement becomes more difficult, due to age or other issues, stretching becomes important just to maintain abilities. It may be difficult to imagine practicing yoga if you can't move particularly easily. But the peaceful, gentle stretching may actually be a good choice for people with disabilities.
The American Pain Foundation's Web site, www.painfoundation.org, has a six-week course called "Chair Yoga for Good Living" that helps those who must remain seated. While a yoga instructor is probably preferable, the course can be led by therapeutic recreation staff or nurses, peer advocates or volunteers. The course is described as a relaxation and breathing class, appropriate for those coping with chronic pain, stress, illness or disability. The six weekly themes are Being Positive, Being Mindful, Being in Community, Being Love, Being Compassion and Just Being Plain. Each hourlong class has 12 components, including sounds, hand gestures, breathing movement, relaxation and mediation.
Another resource is www.getfitwhereyousit.com, which offers a chair yoga fitness and exercise DVD for sale. The exercises are led by Lakshmi Voelker-Binder, a member of the Yoga Alliance and the International Association of Yoga Therapists.
In addition to those with conditions typically labeled as disabilities, Voelker-Binder recommends chair yoga for those coping with weight issues, osteoporosis, arthritis, diabetes, heart disease, chronic pain, breathing problems, multiple sclerosis and scoliosis.
Chair yoga is good for anyone who sits at a desk all day. Once a few particular movements are learned, including the lower back circle, facial and eye movements, wrist and ankle rotations and some deep-breathing methods, they can be done at the desk throughout the day and co-workers will be blissfully ignorant. Voelker-Binder suggests a yoga break might replace the more traditional coffee break and improve production as well as the office atmosphere.
That might be a little too hopeful for me, but even the National Center on Physical Activity and Disability in Chicago ( www.ncpad.org) agrees the postures, which they say can all be modified or adapted to a seated position and the breathing exercises, can be beneficial to people with disabilities. In addition to basic stretching, some of the movements can help stimulate internal organs and increase blood flow and circulation.
Some studies also indicate the breathing techniques alone can ease anxiety, several forms of stress and possibly depression.
That might be enough reason to give yoga a try. There are plenty of yoga studios in the area; why not give the nearest one a call and see if they have a chair yoga class? If they don't, why not suggest they start one? There certainly ought to be enough people who could benefit.

Find this article at: http://www2.tbo.com/content/2008/nov/01/chair-yoga-may-help-those-who-stay-seated

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