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When OTs Wore White Shoes

Chair Yoga

Published February 1, 2016 10:47 AM by Debra Karplus

I've written a couple of other blogs here about yoga; one was a general article about the benefits of yoga for our patients and for ourselves, and the other blog was about my experience trying laughter yoga at a local park district event.

My personal interest in yoga comes from the fact that I sometimes attend a variety of different kinds of yoga classes offered by various places here in my hometown. I understand that it would be more correct to say that "I practice yoga," but being a bit clumsy and not participating with any real regularity or predictable frequency, I'm not sure I can even honestly make such a claim!

A good friend of mine was very excited when she earned certification to teach "chair yoga." She has started teachiong a business class around town which always fills with participants quickly. I believe that to be certified to teach chair yoga, one must first be certified in yoga in general, but I am not certain about this.

There are distinct styles or types of yoga, and my experience is that each yoga instructor has their own differences on how they lead a yoga session and what special equipment they use such as straps, blocks, balls, and other accessories.

Chair yoga is not unlike gentle yoga, but there are some subtle differences between the two. Chair yoga always involves sitting or standing in a chair, while using the support of the chair for yoga positions. Chair yoga is designed to improve overall physical and mental health and incorporates some of the same breathing techniques as regular yoga, along with postures, meditations and relaxation techniques. 

For seniors, or simply for people who are unable to get onto the floor on a yoga mat, chair yoga has many advantages over standard yoga. This has great implications for occupational therapists working in a variety of clinical settings. Many of our patients in rehabilitation facilities such as hospitals and long term care settings use wheelchairs either permanently or temporarily while they are working in therapy to become stronger and increase endurance. Chair yoga could be very beneficial to these people who receive our services. Children in schools, even the very little ones, are not too young to be in a chair or wheelchair and assume seated postures and practice chair yoga techniques and positions.

I would love to hear from occupational therapy practitioners who are reading this blog to share their own personal and professional experiences about using chair yoga with clients in various settings for people of different ages and diagnoses.

I welcome your comments.

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