By Dr. Paul Jerard, E-RYT 500, YACEP
What are the health benefits of chair Yoga classes? Most people think about the exercises first. Yet, there is much more going on than exercise, asana, meditation, relaxation, pranayama, and all the techniques that are part of a chair-based Yoga class. The point being: Seniors are entering a community that is very friendly and supportive to all participants.
“We can never get a re-creation of community and heal our society without giving our citizens a sense of belonging.”
~ Patch Adams
One of the health benefits of chair Yoga classes is the special bonds for practitioners, which create a relaxed and welcoming atmosphere. From birth to old age, the desire to be accepted is an overwhelming prerequisite for happiness. For people who suffer from chronic illnesses or disabilities, however, the difficulty of participating in social or physical activities often hampers their ability to establish bonds or to feel like part of a community. This complicates already existing limitations and frequently leads to additional physical and emotional barriers.
Chair Yoga is a relatively new Hatha-based Yogic venture, designed to make classes more accessible to people who would otherwise be unable to participate in traditional physical Yoga or other exercises. Using adaptations of traditional poses – combined with chairs for seating or support – participants can enjoy the benefits of mental and physical activity, while experiencing the joy of being part of a group. Since Chair Yoga is often taught in community, senior, or medical centers, classes offer members an opportunity to meet and share stories with people who have similar challenges.
Health benefits of chair Yoga classes are similar to traditional Hatha Yoga classes, which result in friendships among classmates. Positive relationships have the potential to create emotional bonds that improve the quality of life and health for class participants.
Special Social Benefits of Attending Chair Yoga Classes
• Researchers have found that people are generally happier when they are around other like-minded people.
• People who feel connected to others are healthier both physically and mentally. They also recover from illnesses and injuries more quickly.
• People benefit when they are able to share their stories with other people who understand and cope with similar issues. They also learn from the diversity of opinions and coping mechanisms.
• Studies have shown that happiness is contagious and that it has a lasting, positive effect on the lives of others, as well. Improved moods will improve the quality of life outside the classroom.
• Participants often celebrate successes together and support each other during difficult times.
• It is much easier to have fun and become motivated with other people who share a common interest.
• There is security in knowing that classes are led by well-trained Chair Yoga instructors.
• Participants feel better, which results in the cultivation of better states of mind and relationships.
The old saying that “a problem shared is a problem halved” may be especially true when it comes to the special bonds and health benefits of chair Yoga classes.
Chair Yoga classes are not always exclusive to seniors. For younger adult female students a chair may be used in the third trimester of pregnancy. Additionally, chairs are used in office Yoga and physical therapy. The goals vary from improving range of motion to recovery from a stroke. The chair has worked its way into Iyengar, Restorative, and Yin classes as well.
© Copyright – Aura Wellness Center – Publications Division
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