One of my chair yoga students came to class and proclaimed,
Since I started chair yoga with you, I haven’t had any problems with my asthma and when I went to the doctor he said I didn’t need to come back for six months.
She was obviously pleased. She’d even brought someone else with her to class. The other person’s doctor had also been supportive of yoga.
Truthfully, I was a little perplexed. I teach yoga because I know all of the health benefits. My personal practice has kept me fit and even helped me survive being run over by a car.
But I’d only been teaching at this location for seven weeks and she didn’t even attend every class. What was really going on?
Obviously, my senior chair yoga does not provide a strenuous physical workout. We stretch and strengthen our bodies from head to foot, but this isn’t a sweaty power class. So, I put the physical explanation aside and knew her better health had to be due to our breathing exercises and meditation.
Pranayama (breathing) is our first and most important action. Think about it. You can go a week or more without food, maybe a few days without water, but you can’t even go a few minutes without air. Breathing only in the chest in a shallow way causes stress and fatigue. The body needs full breaths which expand the chest, rib cage, and belly.
Since I only teach once a week, my goal is to give students the tools to live better when we don’t have class. I encourage them to take their yoga breathing with them throughout the day and to also find a few moments each day to sit quietly and clear their minds with simple meditation techniques such as concentrating on their breath. They are discovering what a great difference this can make in their lives and how much better they can feel.
Several years ago I asked a yoga teacher how I could advance in my practice, he told me I had to practice yoga regularly and put in the time. Until I accepted this as the truth, I didn’t advance. As my student proved, it doesn’t have to be that much time each day. We can simply concentrate on breathing better and stopping our pesky brains from stirring up trouble in our lives.
Last week I talked with another volunteer and came up with the concept for a public access tv show called +Postive Health. +Positive Health encourages a better quality of life above and beyond trying to prevent disease. The first episode features me teaching a beginner chair yoga class including a 3-part breathing technique and an easy mantra meditation. The episode was filmed in the Montgomery Community Media studio and will be available for viewing soon.
I hope my “Online” yoga endeavors will help more people find better health each day and see doctors less often!