Here is an option for your Chair Yoga classes. There are seated flows and standing flows from the back, or side, of the chair. “The flow,” which we know as “Vinyasa,” is synchronized breathing with movement. This brings to mind vigorous Yoga classes for young, energetic, and fit Yoga students.
However, Vinyasa can be gentle, too. If introduced correctly, Vinyasa Flows can be fun for students of all ages and most health conditions. The exception to this is extremely severe arthritis. Unfortunately, excess movement is not encouraged for this particular group.
Do not give medical advice, and explain to your students that you are a Yoga teacher, not a medical doctor. If one of your Chair Yoga students does not like their physician’s advice, he or she has the right to seek a second medical opinion from a qualified physician, but do not give medical opinions.
Many physicians advise their patients, with severe arthritis, to stop exercise altogether. Constant friction, in the joints, without lubrication, is an existence of constant pain. This particular group would even be taxed in a gentle restorative style Yoga class or while performing isometrics.
So far, I have met a rare few, who have a severe level of arthritis, and they held postures for a long time with very little movement. That was all they could realistically endure, due to the level of pain they constantly live with. The fact that they try gives them mental comfort.
Again, in the above case, most physicians do not recommend any kind of exercise; however, Pranayama and meditation were a big relief. Vinyasa, of any sort, was “out of the question.” So, let’s concentrate now on the 99% of your Chair Yoga students who are looking for a little stimulation in the form of Vinyasa Yoga.
Your Chair Yoga students can hold a posture for one complete breath. That is one full inhale and one full exhale, while holding a posture. This will be much less vigorous, but your Chair Yoga students will love it. This is not a race and is also mildly aerobic. The benefits are mentally uplifting, as well.
For a fit crowd, an inhale on one posture, and an exhale on the following posture will be fine, but the breath should still be complete. The Chair Yoga teacher is not a “drill sergeant,” so the pace of any Chair Yoga Vinyasa flow should be slow, thorough, and controlled. Chair Yoga Vinyasa Flow is not a race. The absolute and top priority is to keep Yoga practice safe. Fun is one thing, but safety overrides fun every time.
© Copyright 2006 – Paul Jerard / Aura Publications
Paul Jerard is director of Yoga teacher training at Aura in RI. He’s a master instructor of martial arts and Yoga. He teaches that along with fitness. He wrote: Is Running a Yoga Business Right for You? For Yoga students who want to be a teacher.