Diane Talbert shares her experiences with Chair Yoga - a low impact way of introducing herself to the health benefits of a regular yoga practice.
If you’re like me you’ve been wanting to try yoga forever but the daunting combination of balancing and stretching can seem unrealistic. I have tried yoga in the past but never seem to stick with it. It can seem especially overwhelming for someone who suffers from extreme pain or is too heavy to maintain balance for long periods of time. Joint pain, stiffness and swelling make the thought of getting on the floor and attempting yoga a deal breaker.
I have had psoriasis for 55 years and psoriatic arthritis for over 25 years. Kneeling on a yoga mat is the last thing I want to do, especially during an outbreak. My pain makes some of the poses seem impossible. Ironically, the benefits of doing yoga would help alleviate most of the issues that are keeping me from trying yoga. I have tried it but I didn’t stick with it, so I find myself in a bind.
I ran across a video on chair yoga; it was awesome. I was like, “I can do that!” “I have a chair!”
The poses seem to be easy enough, but I wondered if I would get all the benefits of doing regular yoga. I began to do my research. I was on a mission to finally stop complaining and give some form of yoga a try. The first thing I read is that chair yoga is a gentle form of yoga and it gives you many of the same overall benefits of regular yoga. I thought this would be a great, non-intimidating introduction to yoga for me. If I build up my strength, flexibility and feel better, I can decide if I want to branch out into other forms of yoga later.
In my research I was surprised to learn chair yoga incorporates different elements like bands and blocks to give you that extra stretch, just like regular yoga. The more I kept reading the more excited I became about finally deciding to start a yoga practice. The first thing you should note is that yoga is a lifestyle change and you need to be committed to the practice to gain the results you desire. This means practicing regularly.
My reading showed that the regular practice of chair yoga can improve your strength, flexibility, coordination, relieve pain and reduce stress.
Another benefit specifically for chair yoga, is improved posture. This is great for anyone stuck at a desk job all day or for those who work from home. Sitting too long is the enemy of the body and chair yoga has shown me how to incorporate simple movements to keep my circulation flowing and keep me calm throughout the day.
Breathing is another essential key that we don’t always think about. These are simple things we can start adding into our day and watch how it changes the quality of our life over time.
I started doing these couple of positions a month ago. They seem to be improving how I feel already.
Here are two doable poses that I tried:
“SUN SALUTATION ARMS”
Sitting tall, breathe in and lift your arms up, pressing your palms overhead. On an exhale, float the arms back down to your sides. Repeat five times. This helps lengthen the spine and releases tension in the shoulders and neck. You can add sun salutation Twists by repeating the previous exercise and adding a twist as you exhale. Repeat these five times on each side, holding the last twist for five seconds.
Start at a sitting pose, bring your right ankle to rest on your left thigh, keeping the knee in line with your ankle as much as possible. Hold this chair pigeon for three to five breaths. You may forward bend to intensify the stretch if you like. Repeat with the left leg.
Those are just a couple that I have started with that I try and do daily. When you’re in pain the smallest movement can be excruciating. Be sure you research safety tips and if you’re under the care of a physician you discuss with your doctor before getting started. While there are so many benefits, certain conditions like psoriatic arthritis, osteoporosis, rheumatoid arthritis require additional care and precautions while performing some of the moves.
There is no excuse not to at least give yoga a try. Grab a chair and get started today.
Diane Talbert is a blogger, patient advocate and speaker for psoriasis and psoriatic arthritis. She has been an advocate for this disease for over a decade now. Diane has run support groups in the Maryland, DC and Virginia area, is a volunteer for several organizations and vows to help find a cure for psoriasis and psoriatic arthritis and stop the stigma associated with it. She loves being a wife, mother and grandmother.