Community and connection play a big part in chair based yoga.
Isolation is one of the challenges older and less able adults are faced with, not only because it is harder to get about, but also because, as we all get older, the opportunities to make friends or socialise become less readily available.
(Read more about ways to promoting community in chair based yoga here.)
This became even more of a challenge due to the recent crisis in 2020.
The local MS Society Aberdeen group was therefore forced to quickly move lots of its regular social gatherings and classes online and ensure people who may be physically isolated can still keep active and involved.
Many of its members have been advised to self-isolate at home so it was imperative that the group support the local charity offered, seamlessly continued with the regular activities. This includes weekly chair yoga, mindfulness and seated exercise classes, as well as a social group; they all keep everyone active and connected.
The silver lining
Transitioning online back in April 2020, at the start of this global crisis, has not only helped members stay in touch, but has encouraged those who have had limited interaction in the past to get online and broaden their horizons.
Although as an instructor I had my reservations about these online classes it was evident, after the very first time, that more people engaged and members enjoyed participating and immediately reported experiencing the benefits from attending.
There was a silver lining to this crisis after all.
Ian Gourley, a volunteer and Chairman of MS Society Aberdeen group, said:
“We started with an online social and quickly started to explore whether we could run our classes and sessions online as well.
“We now have everything we had before available to people from the comfort of their own homes and on the same timetable as well to keep the continuity.
“The engagement we’re seeing is brilliant.
“There hasn’t been a drop in numbers from what we see in person and we expect it to increase, so we may end up reaching a few extra people as we keep things moving.”
And things have definitely kept moving since April 2020
The MS society Wellbeing Hub has now expanded their offerings to a number of other activities, including Counselling, Gentle Yoga, Chair Yoga, Tai Chi and Seated exercise.
All theses activities are free to the society members, providing much needed support for people who suffer with MS nationwide.
“What the Aberdeen group has been doing, in what has been a difficult time for everyone, is keeping people at risk of being isolated connected and that is absolutely invaluable.Morna Simpkins, director of MS Society Scotland
These sessions give people the chance to chat and share experiences at a time when they may have fewer opportunities to speak to others.
This work not only supports the members, but provide opportunities for service users and their families, to get more connected in their wider community.
The Online sessions have in fact connected MS patients across the length of the United Kingdom and beyond and it has been my honour to be part of such a great initiative.
Content inspired by P&J Article