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January 8, 2014

A Healthier YOU: Chair Yoga

According to a 2011 national study on LGBT older adults, high percentages of LGBT older people struggle with health conditions such as obesity, high blood pressure, cholesterol, arthritis, cataracts, asthma, cardiovascular disease, diabetes and more. That's why SAGE is dedicated to providing programs and services designed to help and educate our LGBT elders on a variety of fitness, health and wellness issues. Starting this month, we are highlighting a few of our programs held at The SAGE Center. This post introduces "Chair Yoga" from The SAGE Center's instructor, Ria Cooper.

ChairYoga
Photo Credit: Katie Orlinsky for Al Jazeera America

What is Chair Yoga?

“Chair yoga” refers to the form of gentle yoga practiced while sitting in a chair (or while standing and using the chair for support or balance). Traditional yoga poses are modified to be accessible for students in chairs. In a regular 45-minute chair yoga class at SAGE, we focus on the breath and on the body by doing simple poses that allow us to stretch, breathe, reach, twist, lengthen, strengthen, balance, and relax. The relaxation and meditation practices at the end of class can help us to release stress and can give us an opportunity to check in with ourselves and relax.

What Are the Benefits of Practicing Chair Yoga?

Benefits of chair yoga can include but are not limited to: lower stress levels, lower blood pressure, improved balance, increased flexibility, increased bone density, improved cognitive function, chronic back pain relief, improved lung capacity, anxiety relief, lower risk of heart disease, etc...

Who Can Do Chair Yoga?

Everyone and anyone! Chair yoga can be especially useful for and accessible to older adults who may be dealing with physical limitations from injuries or aging-related stresses to the body. The measured pacing of the class allows for easeful transitions from one pose to the next, and there is always time for questions and individual modifications if a particular pose doesn’t feel right. Chair yoga can also be a good introduction to yoga if you’re brand new and are interested but have never tried it.

What Should I Wear?

You should wear loose-fitting clothing that you feel comfortable moving in and that doesn’t restrict your movement. Some people like to take off their socks and shoes; some don’t. It’s entirely up to you.

When Can I Come Practice Chair Yoga at SAGE?

Tuesdays, 6:15-7pm, at the SAGE Center (305 Seventh Avenue, 15th floor, NY NY) and/or Thursdays, 1-1:45pm, at the The SAGE Center Brooklyn at the YWCA (30 Third Avenue, Brooklyn NY).

Who Are You?

I’m a freelance yoga teacher for the nonprofit Compass Yoga, and I teach chair yoga classes for SAGE twice a week.  I travel all over Brooklyn and Manhattan to teach at various senior centers, preschools and yoga studios, and the chair yoga classes at SAGE are my favorite. If you’re interested, you can learn more about me on my website.

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