yoga teacher trainingBy Dr. Paul Jerard, E-RYT 500

The power of Yogic methodology, to affect emotional health, has been recognized for centuries; but metaphysical jargon and intricate poses are often intimidating to people unfamiliar with the lingo or unsure of their dexterity. For some senior citizens or disabled individuals, however, simple acts like standing or balancing may be entirely out of the question. In recent years, there has been a trend to adapt physical Yoga training so that the poses (asanas) can be practiced while using chairs for sitting or support.

Today, chair-based classes are becoming increasingly more popular at Yoga schools, medical facilities, senior centers, and community centers around the world. Although the benefits are largely the same as those in traditional classes, there may be less talk about blocked energy, and more discussion of practical methods, to improve physical and mental health. In fact, anyone who has ever counted to 10, or taken a few deep breaths when they were upset, has practiced one of the basic tenets of Yogic philosophy.

Like other classes, Chair Yoga teaches modified forms of poses, breathing techniques, relaxation techniques, and meditation, to bring the body, mind, and emotional state into balance. Although it might be argued that anything helpful to physical health is also good for emotional wellbeing, people who practice a chair-based style might have physical limitations that create additional stress and anxiety. For them, these Yoga classes may serve as support groups, as well as exercise sessions.

Yoga in a Chair for emotional health is beneficial in the following ways.

• Emphasizes the present moment and awareness of bodily sensations

• Integrates physical, emotional, and spiritual facets of the personality

• Reduces pain

• Lessens feelings of helplessness and isolation

• Increases energy and improves mood

• Relaxes muscles and reduces tension

• Releases endorphins that create a sense of wellbeing

• Helps to release negative emotions, such as anger and fear

• Improves sleep and calms the mind

• Increases concentration and mental function

• Creates a sense of connection outside oneself

• Aids in management of chronic conditions and improves quality of life

While disabled or aging adults most often practice Yoga in a chair, it can be helpful anywhere – from the local physical rehabilitation center to the workplace, where it is often called, “Office Yoga.” As this style becomes well known, its therapeutic applications, for emotional health, will likely become even more popular.

For children, who are less active than previous generations, Yoga in chairs has been introduced to help children who are not in ideal physical condition. For children, this is a temporary bridge on the path toward optimum health.

© Copyright 2011 – Aura Wellness Center – Publications Division

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