Guest Post Author: Felicia Gross, LMSW | Flow With Fe
This month we get a two-in-one special for older adults, and we LOVE it!
September is observed as both Healthy Aging Month and Fall Prevention Awareness Month. And because of this, FLOW with Fe is acknowledging the importance of taking preventative measures to live a healthy, full life with the least harm.
And HOW are we doing this might you ask?
We are celebrating our blossoming FLOWers with a Chair Yoga Challenge during Fall Prevention Awareness Week which runs from Saturday, September 22, 2018, until Friday, September 28, 2018.
Each day, FLOWers are welcomed to practice Beginner Level Chair Yoga postures to practice improving balance, flexibility, and strength. Before you get started, there are a few things to consider:
- You may be awakening some muscles that have been sleeping for some time. So, please first consult with your physician to be sure that you are not harming yourself.
- This is not meant to be difficult or something you MUST do. Begin where you are and how you are. Be gentle with yourself, take your time, and really enjoy this challenge.
- Don’t forget to BREATHE through each posture.
- Healthy Aging doesn’t only include physical exercise. Nutrition is a key ingredient as well! Fill your body with the good stuff! Plant-based meals can help you practice eating more whole foods like fruits, veggies, beans, grains, and non-processed goods.
- Stay HYDRATED! Remember to drink lots of water throughout your day.
- Now let’s stretch towards a healthier you!
- Chair Mountain Pose
Have a seat in your chair with your feet flat on the ground. If your legs are a bit shorter and cannot reach the ground comfortably, try sliding up towards the edge of your seat until your knees are lined up above your ankles! Rest your palms over your thighs either face up to open up and absorb all the positive energy from the divine or face down if you’d like to focus more inward. Be sure to sit up tall as if there is a string pulling you up from the crown of your head. Roll your shoulders back to lift your chest. Smile, and rest here for 5 deep breaths.
- Twisted Forward Fold
With your spine still lengthened, raise your arms up above your head as you inhale. With your back straight, fold forward towards your toes. If you cannot yet reach your toes, try touching your shin or your thigh and feel the stretch in your hamstrings and your lower back. Breathe deeply into that stretch. Now, if you haven’t already, try to reach your feet. Place your right palm in the space between your feet. With your right palm on the ground, raise your left palm up to the sky as you gently twist your core. Rolling back your left shoulder may help with initiating the twist. If it feels comfortable, gaze up towards your left palm and try to lift your chest towards the sky as well. Rest here for 5 deep breaths. Repeat on the opposite side. This posture can help loosen up and increase flexibility in your core. Twisted postures can also aid in digestion.
- Calf Raise
Stand behind your chair and place your palms on the back of your chair, face down. Stand up tall with both feet planted firmly on the ground as you keep your balance. With both palms on your chair, inhale and gently raise the heels of your feet so that you are coming onto your toes. Try not to lean on the chair. Stand tall and focus on keeping your shoulders down away from your ears by rolling them down your back. Try to raise your left arm up as you balance on your toes. You can try balancing on your toes for 3 breaths or rise up on an inhale and lower your heels on an exhale for 3 deep breaths. Repeat by raising your right arm. This posture can help strengthen your calve muscles and improve your balance.
- Warrior I
Remain standing behind your chair and place both palms on the back of your chair, face down. Stand up tall with both feet planted firmly on the ground as you continue keep your balance. Still holding onto the back of your chair for balance, place your right foot behind you and plant it on the ground at a 45 degree angle. Gently bend your left knee to a 90 degree angle. If you cannot bend your left knee all the way, bend it slightly, allowing yourself to feel the stretch in your right hip flexor. Relax your shoulders by rolling them down your back to open up the chest. Keep your core tight and your back straight as you gaze up at the beautiful sky. Breathe deeply into that right hip for 5 breaths. Repeat on the opposite side. This posture can help open up the hips and heart. You are also working on improving your strength and balance by balancing your weight between both legs as you try to stay centered in the posture.
- Tree Pose
Standing behind your chair, turn so that your left side is next to the chair. Plant both feet flat on the floor and rest your left palm on the back of your chair. With all five toes on your left foot rooted into the ground, raise your right foot to either the inside of your left ankle, your left shin, or your left thigh. Listen to your body, and be gentle. If you need to, use your right hand to safely lift your right leg into the posture. Place your right hand at heart center or raise your arm up to the sky as a branch on a tree. Keep your back straight and carefully balance on your left foot. Take 5 deep breaths in this posture and lengthen up to the sky through the crown of your head. Repeat on the opposite side by starting with the right side of your body closest to the chair. This posture can help improve balance and strengthen your core.
- Triangle Pose / Side Body Stretch
Standing parallel to your chair, with your left side closest to the chair, stand up straight with your feet planted firmly on the ground beneath you. Widen your feet to a little more than hip width, feet facing forward. With both legs straight, gently push out your right hip and inhale as you raise your right arm up to the sky. On an exhale, slowly bring your right arm over your head to stretch your right side body. If it feels comfortable, gaze up towards your right arm and lift your chest towards the sky. Try not to sink into the left side of your body. Lift from your core. Enjoy this yummy stretch for 5 deep breaths. As you come to your final exhale, gently lower your arm and repeat on the opposite side of your body. Begin again with the right side of your body closest to the chair.
As the final stretch of this challenge, I saved the best for last! This is one of my absolute favorite stretches to do every morning. I feel as though we often neglect our side bodies, and it feels so good to release all that tension from the day. This posture helps improve flexibility and build core strength.
- Prayer Hands / Hands to Heart Center
Rest here and acknowledge the major changes you’ve made this week! You did it! Show gratitude for being given the opportunity to move your body in and out of each posture. Focus on how that makes you feel right now. Take a few deep breaths to yourself in celebration of your accomplishment.
Please let this be just the beginning of your journey. I encourage you to practice these stretches on a weekly basis to help improve your balance, flexibility, your posture and to build strength. Don’t let this be your last stop! There are many ways to practice healthy aging. Please continue to check www.flowwithfe.comfor updates on upcoming blog posts, classes, and workshops if you enjoyed this challenge and need more! FLOW with Fe’s goal is to make yoga and wellness accessible for individuals of all ages and backgrounds. Thanks for reading and thanks for FLOWing! Until next time … Namaste.
About the Author:
Felicia Gross holds her Masters Degree in Social Work from the University of Maryland, Baltimore School of Social Work with a specialization in Aging; and is a Licensed Master Social Worker (LMSW) in the state of Maryland. Felicia decided to pursue yoga earlier in life as a self-care tool to help maintain her work-life balance and peace of mind. She has always had a passion for preventative health and researching ways to incorporate holistic modalities into her social work practice. As a professional working with older adults, she uses yoga to promote healthy aging by adapting yoga postures to meet the physical abilities of her clients.
As creator of FLOW with Fe and co-creator of BlackPartnerYoga, Felicia hopes to make yoga accessible for all by encouraging people of all ages and backgrounds to learn how they can benefit from cultivating their own yoga practice.