The Benefits and Techniques of Gentle Chair Yoga with Sarah Starr from Happy Yoga TV

https://www.happyyoga.tv/

Guest Post Author: Sarah Starr | https://www.happyyoga.tv/

What I Learned About Aging Gracefully with Gentle Chair Yoga

Part of my journey as a yoga instructor was to share a modified yoga practice with a student who unknowingly became my teacher in a graceful way. I was asked to provide a gentle yoga practice as a way to maintain a level of balance which was difficult for her at the time.

We began with standing poses to help strengthen her lower body using a chair as a gentle support. Another concern was to maintain her ability to get in and out of a chair with ease. Many of our seated exercises focused on strengthening the muscles we use to get up including the quadriceps, hip flexors, and core. Over the years, we found various ways to incorporate gentle stretching. Towards the end of her life, our yoga sessions focused on simple breathing exercises and easy stretches she could do in her bed to relieve pain and stiffness. These subtle movements encouraged circulation throughout her body.

We continued with our yoga sessions until she passed away. She had taught me the beauty of acceptance, what it looks to grow older with grace and dignity, and a myriad of ways we could incorporate gentle stretching no matter our physical condition.

Below are a few stretches we used to maintain strength and mobility while using a chair for support.

Spinal Balance

1. Begin with your hands to the seat of the chair and your feet below your hips.

2. With your core engaged, extend your right leg back. Keep your hips level and your right knee pointing downwards toward the earth.

3. Extend your left arm forward shoulder height, reaching energetically through your fingertips.

Release and repeat on the other side extending your left leg and right arm, holding for the same amount of time.

Tips

  • Continue drawing your navel back towards your spine while keeping your spine neutral.
  • Press back through the ball of your right foot to lengthen.
  • Draw your shoulders away from your ears while broadening across your collar bones, feeling the back of your neck long.

Benefits

  • Strengthens your core
  • Improves balance, focus and coordination
  • Stretches the spine, hips, shoulders and torso

Spinal Balance_Sequence

Boat Pose

1. Sitting tall, clasp your hands beneath your chair. Draw your navel back towards your spine, feeling this action awaken your center. Lift your right leg and hold. Release and repeat on the opposite leg, holding for the same amount of time.

2. As you feel stronger, release your clasp placing your hands to your belly or reach your arms over head as you continue to lift your right leg and hold. Release and repeat on the opposite leg, holding for the same amount of time.

3. For more of a challenge, clasp your hands beneath your chair and lift both legs into modified boat pose. Continue lifting through your chest while keeping your spine straight.

Tips

  • Sit tall while keeping your spine straight, lengthening through your front torso.
  • Draw your navel back, lightly lifting through your lower belly.
  • Keep your breath steady and smooth.

Benefits

  • Strengthens abdomen, spine and hip flexors
  • Stimulates the abdominal organs, improving digestion

Boat Pose_Sequence

Figure Four Stretch

1.Lie on your back with your knees bent.

2. Place your right outer ankle to the top of your left thigh, keeping your right foot lightly flexed and in line with your right knee.

3. Reach your right hand under your right calf muscle, using your hands to draw your left leg towards you, pausing when your feel a gentle stretch in your right outer hip and glute.

Release and repeat on the opposite side, holding for the same amount of time.

Tips

  • Keep your right foot flexed, pointing your right knee open to the right, stretching through your right outer hip.
  • Maintain your sacrum to the earth as you draw your legs towards you.
  • Keep your spine and back of neck long.
  • To intensify this stretch, try adding resistance by pressing your leg against your hands.

Benefits

  • Increased mobility and flexibility in your hips, glutes, hamstrings and low back

figure4_Sequence

If you enjoyed this accessible yoga segment and are interested in more Happy Yoga, please visit our streaming site for 3 free full length videos at https://www.happyyogaondemand.com/

Note: If you have any physical impairments or limitations, please be sure to check with your physician before using this or any of Sarah’s programs.

About the Author

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Certified Yoga Instructor Sarah Starr, host and co-producer of “Happy Yoga with Sarah Starr” travels the world to film her yoga program in the world’s most tranquil & beautiful locations, high lighting the beauty of Mother Nature. Having began her Ashtanga based practice in 1998, Sarah excels at making the ancient practice of yoga an accessible, safe and effective practice for beginners to experienced yoga enthusiasts. Happy Yoga with Sarah Starr currently airs nationally on Create TV and Public Television.

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