Often when people hear about yoga in chairs, they think about the older population or those who have physical disabilities. Although I have been teaching yoga in chairs at an assisted living community with wonderful results, people of all ages and ability levels practice this type of yoga. The trend’s growing.
The stretches and bends of chair yoga have been practiced in offices for years. Many companies offer classes and instruction specifically for the workplace. Short physical and mental breaks combined with deep breathing can relieve stress and increase performance.
Elementary schools offer yoga to students in their seats. We all know how kids have difficulty sitting still. Allowing a class to stretch, move, balance, and breath for even 5 minutes can result in better concentration and a fresh outlook.
Students and adults also contend with physical ailments from our tech overload. Bending over computers and cell phones causes neck, back, and shoulder pain which can easily be countered with a few good yoga poses scattered throughout the day. Many people on long plane flights enjoy the benefits of yoga in their seats for many of the same reasons.
Chair yoga can be empowering for those who are overweight and learn to adapt poses with chairs. All of our bodies are so diverse. Yoga poses can reflect those differences. When yoga makes people physically aware of their bodies, they can embrace their bodies and practice in creative ways.
My chair yoga routines always start with an exploration of a breathing technique. Then after a warm up from head to toe, the yoga poses work every part of the body building strength and flexibility in the arms, legs, and back. Many students find the conscious relaxation at the end of practice to be their favorite part.
As they say, “If you can breathe, you can do yoga.”
Because of all of these life situations, chair yoga will continue to grow among people of all ages.
I never thought elimination diets were a good idea. My motto has always been “everything in moderation”. When I lost my weight my goal was to make changes in my diet which could last a lifetime. But during a personal revolution, you must shed your perceptions of the world and try those things you never thought you would.
For three days I only ate fruit. I spent the time flip flopping. I was surprised when I wasn’t hungry then bouts of hunger would come over me. Fruit only goes so far. Blended organic juices high in fiber can actually be very filling. But I was cold, freezing most of the time. My solution was to cook the fresh pineapple and sauté the avocado-tomato medley (yes, they are fruits).
By the third day I didn’t go to my mixed martial arts class because I knew burning 1000 calories would leave me too hungry. I certainly wasn’t functioning with my full potential. The daily hour and a half of yoga was no problem but there was no strength for anything else. For this reason the cleanse was a bad idea.
However, my body did feel clean without any adverse effects. The day after the cleanse ended I simply had yogurt for breakfast. Being famished didn’t cause me to overeat.
Because I had been so hungry for so long and couldn’t appease the pangs, I have become much more conscious of eating. Even though I want to eat something, I now stop and think about it even more than usual. Eating somehow has become more of a choice and less of a necessity.
At a cocktail party I accidentally ate a chicken salad sandwich. After a month without meat, the taste seemed strange. I finished it even though I recognized my mistake after the first bite. I know I could live without meat. Unfortunately, I don’t think my kids could, partially because of the food allergies and partially because of their complete lament that we are only half-way done with this experiment.
As for the rest of my week of “restoration”, I learned to take it easy when necessary. The fruit cleanse forced me to skip my kickboxing so I did relax. Some of the yoga practices challenged my muscles and I realized I need to mix the difficulty of my practices. The 20 minutes of meditation seemed long at first, but it definitely forced me to learn to let go and begin again. Repeatedly pushing thoughts out of my head means I repeatedly feel the peace of the moment.
At one yoga practice we sent out our love and then felt the love in the room return to us. This probably seems pretty hokey to many people. This could even be held up as a reason never to try yoga but it was only for a moment. Consider how we exist in a state of never-ending emotions. Capitalizing on the best one can only make you feel better. I know the love from those I love in my life is the only way I am truly restored.
This post is part of a series on my 40 Days To Personal Revolution journey.
When you truly want to fit something into your life, you can.
A couple of years ago, Dave, the co-owner of Thrive Yoga, told me the participants in the 40 Days To Personal Revolution program not only find time to do their yoga but their energy level allows them to do much more in their life. At the time, I believed him but understood the process would be miraculous. It is. Setting your mind on a goal and dedicating the time to make it happen may take up your time, but by not wasting it elsewhere and feeling rejuvenated, you can create more. I plan my yoga classes and everything else falls into place.
Think about how it feels to visit a new destination. You notice and observe every little detail. Everything’s a surprise. Even if you don’t know where you are going, it’s all new so each moment seems special and exciting. This is the true sense of discovery.
During the second week of Baptiste’s 40 Days program, the emphasis is on vitality but you don’t need to go somewhere exotic to rediscover and rejuvenate.
Because of the program, I discovered new teachers, poses, and food. Having to practice yoga 6 out of 7 days last week meant I spent more time in the studio and had two new instructors. The instructors introduced different challenges and poses. One had us in Down Dog so long I was in pain then she said “This is supposed to be a resting pose, right?[Laughter] I once had an instructor keep us in Down Dog for 10 minutes.” At least I wasn’t imagining the difficulty. Repetitious programs can dull your senses but because we all desire the familiar, we often stick to our same patterns and don’t shake up our lives. I’m being forced out of my usual yoga habits. I’d never seen the Bird of Paradise pose but after it was introduced last week, I practiced at home. The new poses, and several twists to old poses, clicked my brain into a higher gear.
When we started the 40 Days program, we were told we’d be excited to try new shops. At the time I didn’t think my journey would take me to any new stores. This week’s food theme was fresh food and my search brought me to the local seafood market which I had not visited in years. A new baked bluefish recipe called for apples and mushrooms and the family hasn’t stopped saying they want to eat it again.
Underlying the second week was a feeling I couldn’t quite put into words until I read The Key to Happiness: A Taboo for Adults? On the Huffington Post, especially these sections:
Researchers say that the more absorbed we are in activities we like to do, the happier we are. Abraham Maslow and Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi pinpointed the power of full involvement in the moment to produce optimal experiences. Maslow called optimal moments the time when we are most attuned, “more integrated and less split, more perfectly actualizing.”
Contrary to stereotype, engaged play is the gateway not to time-wasting but to times that let you contact deeper realms. When you paint a canvas or play volleyball, you’re in a creative improvisation that calls on inner fortitude and commitment and that reflect your values through self-expression. Play satisfies core self-determination needs, such as autonomy and competence, as little else can, connecting you with your mandate to explore and challenge yourself. That’s the integration Maslow was talking about. You tap the true you, not the performance identity of the job or the presentation identity that we display to others. Play relieves you of the burden to be someone you’re not. There’s nothing on the line; it’s just play. Just you.
With only one rest day, I have challenged myself and found the real me on my yoga mat. In the process, I’ve discovered a new level of satisfaction.
As for the coffee endeavor, I actually forgot to make it twice last week. And yes, I had a chuckle over the release of a supersized 31 oz. coffee from Starbucks while I’m trying to cut back. That’s a lot of coffee!
This post is part of a series on my 40 Days To Personal Revolution journey.
The American Council On Exercise recently did a study on hula hooping, but the information which caught my eye concerned kickboxing. When compared to power yoga, aerobics, Nia, pilates, and even these very popular “boot camp” programs, kickboxing stands out as the best exercise for getting your heart rate up and burning calories.
Although I practice yoga for the stretching, muscle tone, and other more spiritual benefits, my desire to hit and kick the bags has consumed me for more than two years. I thought I’d been imagining the intensity of the full body workout from kickboxing. Apparently I’m not.
When someone says, “I feel like kicking something.” I say, “Come to the gym and do just that.” As a side benefit, you might be able to fend for yourself if attacked. We don’t practice knocking out someone’s knee then kicking them in the head for nothing. Double tap!
The one most important piece of advice is to find something you like doing, something you look forward to doing. If it’s the hula hoop then go for it! All exercise is good.
After almost 11 years of yoga practice, I’m timidly starting a Personal Revolution to kick off the New Year. Opening myself to new possibilities, I have no way of knowing what will happen.
As a gift for my birthday this month, my husband registered me for a program at Thrive Yoga based on Baron Baptiste’s 40 Days To Personal Revolution book.
For both my pregnancies my husband and I intensely prepared with the Bradley Method of Natural Childbirth (that’s another post I need to write!). During my second pregnancy almost 11 years ago, I added a prenatal yoga class and never stopped practicing at home by myself with videos and instruction.
Stepping into an actual studio with people was a big step a few years ago. I have never enjoyed group physical fitness experiences but I found a home at Thrive Yoga, a special and peaceful place which takes you beyond the physical yoga practice. When I first talked to the co-owner Susan, she explained that her husband, Dave, had been in a bad car accident and her sister had died from cancer. When she looked at her life, she knew what was important so they started Thrive. This is a beautiful studio where you can go to handle the stresses from life and center yourself. The workshops and classes are all about a better, complete life.
Since Thrive Yoga already provides a transforming experience, the thought of a more intense study requires me to take an even deeper breath. I’ll admit I’m nervous. A year and a half ago, I talked to Dave about advancing in my yoga practice. Expecting an easy answer about the classes I should take, he suggested the intensive 40-day course. He said most people think they don’t have the time and this was exactly what I was thinking. Then my arm injury prevented me from even considering the possibility.
But here I am.
For six weeks the program works on your health. In addition to at least six yoga practices a week, we’ll meet weekly to talk about our eating habits and daily meditation. That’s body, mind, and spirit.
I need this now.
When I spoke with one of my spiritual advisors recently, he commented that I had said the same thing to him two years ago. He’s right. He was also right when he said I was doing too many things.
I must stand still and listen for a while.
This will mean I cut back on much of what I am doing. I have a painting sketched out on a big white canvas and I’m going to pick up those brushes again. Because I never thought I’d make a salary with my artwork, I discarded it. Truth be told, I’m not making a heck of a lot of money freelancing right now so I might as well be doing what I truly love. So yoga, diet, prayer, painting, and family will be my only priorities as I open myself to come apart. My husband said he can’t imagine a better time for me to do this, and he is right.
Although I am fortunate to have a local program to keep me focused, 40 Days To Personal Revolution provides a complete guide for anyone, anywhere. Even a beginner can follow the instructions for each yoga pose and benefit from the weekly readings.
Now if I can only get “You say you want a revolution” to stop repeating in my head.
May you find what you seek this year.
This post is part of a series on my 40 Days To Personal Revolution journey.
During a seventh grade dance Anthony told me that if I lost 50 pounds, I would be really good looking. He was a kind boy who had stopped girls from calling me names. He was trying to be helpful and give me advice. A year later he was killed in a car crash. I can still picture the coffin going down the aisle.
In tenth grade Dominic dived into a quarry and never came up. His mother had hand-sewn a dress as my birthday present in second grade. Then Maria’s house was on fire and although she came to the window and people yelled for her to jump from the second story, she went back to get her mother and they both died. I found out in advanced chemistry that morning when they made the announcement. She had been the lead in the musical and had a beautiful, unforgettable voice.
Lately I can’t stop thinking about them.
At 43 years of age I finally lost the 50 pounds, so I think about Anthony … then it snowballs. Anthony was right. I wish I hadn’t waited my whole life to feel so good about myself. I was so tired of being overweight. No matter what anyone says about accepting their weight and it not mattering, you feel like a failure when the methods exist to lose it to be healthy and you don’t. My greatest fear is that I will fall into a bad place and gain all the weight back, hence the constant training and exercising.
We don’t know how much time we have. If you feel bad about something in your life then change it — now. Find the epiphany moment before it is too late.
Often when people are interviewed they express surprise at deadly situations. Bad occurences never surprise me. I’ve always felt bad about taking them in stride. How could I do that? Clearly, a very long time ago, I accepted how life could be over in an instant. For good or for bad, it carries with me each day.
I only have five years until I’m the age of my father when he died. He didn’t have long. I might not either, and I don’t want to squander my time.
So I’m constantly asking myself, “What’s important?”
My kickboxing instructor asked me to punch her. She wouldn’t punch back. She’s training for a big fight and needs to get used to being hit.
I don’t know if I can.
Why am I kickboxing anyway? For a few years, my husband has been suggesting kickboxing whenever I lament my large “slavic thighs”. Joking about my thigh genes being passed down for thousands of years to the women of my family, I have the legs of my mom and grandmother. They are the last hold out for my fat deposits, so I need to work them.
My instructor has started to talk to me about competition. An exhibition could eventually lead to sparing against other women. I hold back telling myself that I’m in it for the exercise.
During my third class I took her up on the offer to release my frustrations on the bag. Until that moment, I was just going through the physical motions. “What’s bothering you?” she yelled. With the thought of an annoying situation in my life, I really wailed on that leather bag. The sensation was scary. I’m afraid I’ll lose myself down the long dark tunnel of this aggressive world.
My instructor has a fourth degree black belt. She tells the story of the guy who came up to her with a knife one night. He said “Give me your bag.” She tried to warn him by saying “Don’t mess with me.” He decided to repeat “Give me your bag.” So she tossed it high in the air. When he went to grab it, she punched him hard, caught the bag, and took off. The thought of that kind of power hasn’t left my mind since I heard the story.
Imagine having such control and confidence.
So what’s it going to be? Can I really fight someone? Will I slip into this world and not recognize myself?
I’m still trying to figure out who I am. I must be alive.
If you had asked me last week if I could survive three additional boys living with us, I would have said no. I’m not that kind of person. Deep down in my heart, I know for sure I am not that kind of person. If I was, I would have had more kids!
I tried to say I couldn’t take care of these kids for five days/six nights. All my friends knew I didn’t have the strength. I said I couldn’t do it but the mom called in desperation with no other options. She has another dream of this next best position and the mandatory trip required to be successful. I felt like I had no option and agreed.
On Tuesday, the day of arrival, I finally went to a yoga class. My goal was inner strength to center me for this ordeal. What I truly forgot about was the physical pain a new class brings. I didn’t know the class would be an hour and a half. The owner is a friend and I always meant to help out her business by taking some classes. Yoga at home when I feel like it is more my style. I’m not a “joiner” when it comes to exercise because I hate to exercise.
By Wednesday I was popping pain killers all day but I had inner strength. As a matter of fact, I completely surprised myself with my positive attitude and ability to handle it all – different drop offs, a preschooler again, some crying, no backpacks, nonstop requests, no socks or underwear, no long sleeve shirts in winter, no phone calls – everything. I was on a dedicated high and could handle anything.
Last night my head was killing me. I never sleep but I slept for eight hours and was still drained this morning. Some one’s eye was just hurt playing and they are yelling. Only two more days to go, but it is the weekend and there is no school.
Someone commented that I must be really good friends with her. As friends go, I would say that I am not. I just feel that if life had dealt me her hand, I would want someone to be there for me. I always admire how she never gives up. I’ve always been sure I could not be a single mom but really you need to take it one day at a time and hope for the best.