A few months ago, I overstretched my inner left groin muscle and as with any injury, it makes me very aware of a part of the body I took for granted. Not only did it become difficult to perform certain yoga poses, but also sometimes running or walking was difficult, as well as getting in and out of a car.
It was after seeing a few specialists and hearing the same advice, I decided to take it. The muscle needed rest and my extreme daily yoga practice was going to have to hit the brakes.
First, I found my moods started to dip due to the lack of physical activity. Seratonin and endorphins are two of the hormones that are released during exercise. I very quickly could feel them plummet and my outlook on life was a lot more pessimistic than it usually is. I then took a SoulCycle spin class, which shot them back up, but I still missed the tranquil feelings of yoga, the breathing, and few moments to pause the mind.
It was around this time that I started to teach a lot more senior (55+) chair yoga classes and I saw that despite the limited movement as compared to regular yoga, every time I left a class, I felt so much better. It was with these thoughts that I started to teach it more and practice it in my free time.
By coincidence, one of the leaders in chair yoga, Stacie Dooreck, visited LA last weekend to teach multiple workshops on the topic and without hesitation, I signed up for all of them. Over the weekend, we practiced 5+ hours and just like I suspected, I was feeling that “high” of yoga—peace, inner calm, and a great stretch.
When one thinks of senior citizens doing yoga, it obviously doesn’t sound very taxing. What I learned by teaching it, and by studying with Stacie, is that using a chair for support doesn’t at all have to make the practice less strenuous. We tone our muscles just as we do in a regular routine, but if there are handicaps, such as a strained groin, the chair is here to support that. Most of the students in her class were not 55+. They were people who sit at a desk all day and were looking for new ways to stretch their bodies.
I cannot begin to explain the new-found freedom I feel by discovering the chair. I was even thinking of creating the phrase “the chair is the new block” for all those yoga companies who make the foam tools to aid in fitness routines.
For those of you who sit in a chair all day and need some simple tools to stretch, I highly recommend Stacie’s new book, Sunlight Chair Yoga: Yoga for Everyone!