Chair Yoga: “The True Essence of What Yoga Is Really About”

Yoga is everywhere nowadays. However, with its portrayal on Instagram and Facebook you might be convinced that it is only for the flexible and young, those who are working on achieving seemingly impossible poses. Don’t be fooled by this portrayal…a majority of the benefits of yoga are therapeutic in nature, and apply to everyone. It provides everything from stress relief, to strength building, to injury prevention and treatment.

Group of senior people doing yoga exercises

Therapeutic yoga and Pilates use anatomy and alignment principles to help people with injuries or physical limitations, as well as to build body awareness and functionality to prevent injuries from occurring. Props are often used to facilitate postures. Perhaps most importantly classes are a place where students can feel safe, not judged, and comfortable. Classes are designed to be a home for all, regardless of age, gender, and injury. A place for healing and growth. A place where confidence and strength is fostered. If you’re looking for an introduction to yoga or Pilates but feel limited by injury or any other reason, check out therapeutics and find an environment where you will bloom.

Marianne Meyers is a local therapeutic yoga guru, passionate about working with populations who otherwise might be excluded from taking yoga classes, but who potentially have the most to gain from yoga.

chair yoga 02

What is chair yoga?
Chair yoga is for people who have specific types of health conditions like knee or hip replacements, osteoarthritis, osteoporosis, scoliosis, stroke recovery, rheumatoid arthritis, fibromyalgia, or problems with fatigue. The chair replaces the yoga mat and becomes an extension of your body, allowing you to take full advantage of yoga’s amazing fitness and health potential. There is a strong focus on structural alignment and foundation. It is also a great place for students working with balance issues.

What does chair yoga offer?

You get the same benefits as a regular yoga class: building strength, working with the breath, developing awareness of your postural habits.  As a yoga student who has studied for 23 years, I find chair yoga to be surprisingly challenging.

What kind of things do you want students to take from the class?

1) Pain relief.  Many studies are coming out now with proof that yoga is fantastic for dealing with chronic pain.  In class, we learn ways to practice and work with this in our daily lives.

2) Empowerment. Many of us who deal with chronic pain feel like victims.  Yoga gives us a way to understand and feel a positive connection with our bodies.

3) A sense of discovery. Yoga is about discovery.  As we work through the poses, new awareness develops.

4) A sense of community. In chair yoga class, you will meet many other students who are just like you!  They may not be going through the same exact health issues, but they are dealing with things day to day, just like you.  I am delighted that students in my chair and therapeutic yoga classes become a community and support each other.

chair yoga 01Why do you teach chair yoga? 

There is something about chair yoga that I will teach it until I die, because it’s beautiful. What I discovered about teaching it—and I had no idea this would happen—I thought I was just adding to my repertoire, but when I taught it I saw these people that didn’t feel included. I saw these people that felt they didn’t have a place in yoga that fit them that suddenly felt like they had a home. And they were blossoming. And that’s a joy no matter what you teach, but particularly chair yoga, because yoga is now geared for people who are young, who are overly bendable. The photos are people in little outfits doing crazy wheel poses. People in chair yoga, they’ll never be able to do something like that, and they lose heart. And yoga is such a great thing for them to be doing. In chair yoga, I watch the true essence of what yoga is really about, affecting people. You watch their faces change, you watch their approach to their daily lives change. It’s right there in front of you and I can’t explain it—you just see them changing and taking in the true essence of yoga.

What other therapeutic classes does Mind the Mat offer?

Therapeutic Yoga is yoga for people with specific injuries, limitations, or conditions as well as for those who have not done yoga before. Emphasis is on alignment, and props are used to help students get the most out of every posture.

Therapeutic Pilates is used both for injury prevention and to heal injuries in the back, neck, hips, and other areas of the body.  It is focused on building strength, as well as creating a mind-body connection to re-educate muscles that have been affected by injury.

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