Chair yoga: Great option in restorative exercise

If you?re looking for a softer alternative to If you’re looking for a softer alternative to floor yoga, then chair yoga might be an option for you. Photo Credit: iStock

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Considering adding yoga to your exercise regimen, but frightened by poses with names like "Balancing Stick?"

Unfortunately, though wildly popular, traditional forms of yoga are not always valid options for would-be yogis. Instead, individuals who have been looking for a softer alternative to floor yoga may consider chair yoga as a more viable option.

Though popular among elderly participants, chair yoga is a type of restorative yoga that is offered to people of all fitness levels and those looking specifically for help with recovering injuries and preventing future ones. These classes offer a great set of different techniques for people who want to improve their support, alignment and balance.

Instructor Melissa Boyd has led chair yoga classes for about eight years in the North Babylon Public Library. The class is a six-week program where students learn different yoga techniques such as abduction, lifting away from the body, and adduction, lowering back into the body.

In techniques such as these, the chair comes into play by providing students with extra balance as they shift their weight and movement from one body part to another.

During one recent class, Boyd taught some advanced poses such as the cow’s face pose as well as more familiar ones like the triangle and warrior poses. While the use of chairs provides a softer form of yoga, it still allows students to accelerate to more complex movements that everyone is encouraged to try. As Boyd assisted her students, she asked, “Who could have thought you could do all of this with a chair?”

Mary Patti, a senior citizen and one of the students attending the class, said she felt very good after her first session and she’s looking forward to coming again.

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Many other students, like Doris Alessi, who have attended the class before, say they still find more to learn in each session. Alessi explained that she felt very at peace and finds the mediation section very soothing especially with the dark lights and the soft music.

Instructor Boyd reinforces to her students on the first class that, “Yoga is all about the process . . . where it is and where we want it to be.”

She spoke after class saying that this form of yoga is a great outlet for all types of people with different ailments; whether it’s specific injuries such as joint displacement, diseases such as Parkinson’s or any other physical issue.

Chair yoga sessions are offered for free to the local community at the North Babylon Public Library. This is one of the many free yoga classes offered on Long Island, so check with your local communities to find out what classes are offered near you.

Have a favorite yoga class? Tell us where and why in the comments field below!

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