By Faye Martins
Many people think Yoga in a chair is specifically designed for seniors. While chair Yoga is popular among seniors, it must be remembered that lack of mobility or flexibility are the primary reasons why students come to our classes. Automobile accidents, sudden trauma, and neurological disorders also top the many reasons why someone may be using a chair as the main prop in a Yoga class.
With that said, it must be remembered that a lack of mobility will make one’s world smaller. If I sit in a wheelchair during my waking hours, my level of social activities may not be optimum. There are exceptions, but most of us need some bonding time with others.
Yoga teachers who work with disabled students in classes, private sessions, or in their homes are aware of the time it takes to do tasks that most of us take for granted. Yoga in a chair has such a profound impact on mental health that it would be a huge mistake to view it as a purely physical practice.
While the emotional and physical benefits of seated yoga are widely known, one may be surprised by this activity’s positive impact on the social side of things as well. Chair yoga classes offer a great opportunity for the socialization necessary for high levels of self-esteem and happiness. This is quite valuable since getting the social interaction one needs can be quite a challenge, especially for the aging or disabled.
For most people, relationships seem to be forged automatically, but in reality they are the direct result of the activities we do on a daily basis. Work, one of the most time consuming of all activities, provides the average individual with a large portion of their social contacts. Seniors and certain disabled individuals may lack that golden opportunity for human interaction on a daily basis if they aren’t employed.
Yoga in a chair offers individuals a great method for socializing without anxiety, nervousness or awkwardness. Everyone is focused on the teacher so no one needs to feel self-conscious, yet everyone in the group is united in reaching a common goal, which gives a sense of unity to all involved.
Individuals may be uncomfortable with performing chair yoga in a group, but the practice of yoga itself will help relieve this anxiety naturally. Yoga in a chair activates the parasympathetic system, which is the polar opposite of the fight-or-flight response. When individuals have bouts of anxiety-induced social panic, the sympathetic system is to blame. The breathing during Yoga classes counters this and allows people to truly connect with others, which prevents baseless negative emotions from getting in the way.
One of the ways humans learn about themselves is through observing how their own innate strengths differ from those of others. Chair yoga classes are a perfect platform for this type of group social interaction. The non-competitive atmosphere honors the uniqueness of each individual, which gives them a comfortable space to be in and provides people from different walks of life an opportunity to become part of something that constantly improves the quality of life. Studies show that being a part of a group increases emotional stability and happiness, while chair Yoga is a comfortable group activity that can easily be added to any lifestyle.
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