in chair based yoga classes.
The sequencing framework I offer in my chair based yoga classes is quite unique. I come from an adapted and therapeutic yoga background so, it is very important for me that people not only access the poses, but go beyond that. I want them to access a lot more than that. I want them to be able to feel the difference while they’re practicing yoga:
▪ feel better with every practice
▪ feel a shift in the way they think
▪ feel comfort in their body
▪ feel good emotionally.
All those things are very important and they go well beyond just accessing a yoga pose.
In chair based yoga classes I want to provide the students with the benefits of the practices in order to create a positive shift overall. This is how I can be of service to my students and have that positive impact in their lives.
1. Community and connection.
Chair based yoga classes are very different, they’re not like a regular, mat-based class. I know that the reason students come to chair based yoga classes goes beyond asana. Community and connection play a big role in bringing people together instead.
Dee who has joined us from London in our online classes with the MS society, jumped at the opportunity of joining the online community and has been practicing with us since April 2020, in fact.
Theresa, who used to come to the classes on the MS Society wellbeing hub, has been living by herself during the pandemic. She said that the classes have been a godsend to her, keeping her going with a positive attitude.
It all just comes to show you that we are social creatures, so loneliness can affect us deeply, if we let it. Therefore giving the people the opportunity to connect is an important consideration to make in the sequencing of the classes.
2. Functional movement
Chair yoga classes are also a gateway to maintaining functional movement and must also be incorporated in the sequencing elements of a class.
▪ Putting shoes on and tying laces,
▪ Reaching for things from the top cupboard
▪ Walking better
▪ Being independent
▪ Fine motor movement like feeding and dressing oneself.
These things are very important to students in order to live their lives and these things, yet again go beyond asana and the physical aspects of the practice.
3. Management of their Conditions
Chair Based yoga classes give students the opportunity to not simply practice but also discover about tools that they can use to manage in later life or manage their chronic condition.
It could be something that they’re recovering like cancer, surgery or stroke.
Or it could be a chronic condition such as MS and ME or fibromyalgia.
The classes then become a “class”, where students learn ways to sleep better, manage pain even address mindset.
Because being chronically ill is tough. The sleepless nights, the fatigue and pain, the relapses, they are all another “punch in the gut”.
For that reason the focus of the sequence shifts a little to take into account these challenges. It is important as a yoga teacher show up in a way that supports that, not just in the hour that students may be there with you, but beyond that, giving them tools to manage.
4. Acuity of the mind
Finally we are looking at the acuity of the mind, at the sharpness of the mind, focus and concentration.
Incorporating things like balance poses or “play” with breath ratios and cross lateral body movements that can bring incredible focus and concentration in chair based yoga classes.
Memory, focus, sensory, proprioception all sadly degrade over time and may affect physical wellbeing also, like balance and coordination. The chair based yoga classes then becomes this safe place where students can work on maintaining these in their lives and ultimately maintaining good health.
In my chair based yoga training I have incorporated all these elements in the design and sequencing of chair based yoga classes .
I studied chemical engineering in Heriot Watt University and my brain works in a way that loves processes, structures, frameworks, tables and bullet points. These are all things that make sense to me and I have of course incorporated them in my chair based yoga trainings for yoga teachers.
Through that framework we can serve the students purposefully. Teach students practices that go beyond the physical aspects of the yoga and address their imbalances effectively.