The Lowdown On Chair Yoga And Why It’s Perfect For A WFH Lifestyle
Christine from YoGrá Yoga is here to answer all our burning questions!
What is chair yoga?
Chair yoga is a safe and supportive way of doing yoga using a chair. Originally developed for people with limited mobility, this style of yoga helps to develop balance and stability in both body and mind and has all of the benefits of a regular practice including increased joint mobility, better sleep, improved posture, calmer mind, reduced anxiety and increased flexibility.
The yoga postures are performed either sitting in the chair or standing using the chair to make the practice more accessible and available to more people of all abilities and body types. It’s such a great way to stay active especially for anyone who has difficulty performing floor-based exercises.
How did it become popular?
Some schools of yoga such as Iyengar have been using chairs as props for many decades to enable students to perform deeper versions of advanced poses. However, Chair Yoga is a much more basic form of the practice and generally begins seated with options to come to stand if available to the students. Don’t be fooled into thinking that you won’t be challenging the physical body- chair yoga can be a real workout and can strengthen the whole body including the core without ever getting up to stand!!
Chair yoga has become increasingly popular over the past few years as many people are discovering via Facebook and Instagram that yoga isn’t all about fancy poses and handstands, you don’t need tight leggings or even a mat! It’s a mindful practice that can be done anywhere, anytime by anybody and that includes people of all shapes, sizes and with differently abled bodies.
Where/how can you practise chair yoga?
Chair yoga can be done anywhere and anytime! At the desk, in the kitchen, even in the car!! You don’t need any fancy equipment or props, just take a seat, breathe and flow. I have some chair yoga videos on my social channels including Instagram and YouTube right now that you can try out for free!
Why do you think yoga from home has become so popular compared to all other home exercises during the pandemic?
So many people felt like the rug had been pulled out from under them last year. It was time to stop in our tracks and re-evaluate our lives. Locked inside, no social life, we all lost the run of ourselves painting and decorating, learning to cook or sew and of course everyone took up yoga!!
So many yoga teachers, including myself, quickly moved online and all of a sudden there were classes every hour of every day. Before we would have been commuting or trying to organise childcare but with the transition to online yoga as well as hosting Facebook and Instagram Lives, it was so easy to just switch on the laptop and choose your class, even if the teacher was in New York!! At one stage I had students zooming in from Scotland, England and even the USA! Yoga is much more than a physical workout – it’s a work IN! Yoga has been around for over two thousand years and is an ancient practice where we
learn to connect the mind, body and breath and move beyond the physical, material world to find harmony and wellbeing. You don’t need any fancy equipment or clothes; you don’t even need much space and it doesn’t need to be an hour of meditation and a sweaty yoga class with handstands; it can be ten minutes of watching our natural breath and a few neck rolls and that might be enough and you know what? That’s OK. There is no judgement, no finish line, no stats to compete with. There are so many different types of yoga now that a quick online search will display endless classes and opportunities to find the right practice for you.
My mission is to make yoga accessible to everyone, especially people who think they can’t do yoga due to physical challenges. I personally have endured some injuries to my body recently which have made me really get creative with my classes and to find ways to make yoga more accessible, not just to me but to everyone!
If you can breathe you can do yoga. I think the pandemic made us realise the importance of mindfulness and the importance of self-care. And for many of us Yoga has been the missing piece in the puzzle.
How did YoGrá come about?
I started practicing yoga in my late twenties and very quickly began to feel the benefits but it wasn’t until 2016 that I had the opportunity to train as a yoga teacher. I have three children, 3 dogs and one husband – so it is always a juggle to balance home and work! Initially I taught vinyasa flow yoga which is a dynamic and quite a challenging practice, but as the years went by, I began to lean more towards a slower Hatha style of yoga. I’ve taught yoga to a wide range of people, children and adults in schools, colleges, workplaces, gyms and of course I also had my own studio before the pandemic. I trained in chair yoga in 2018, initially thinking that I would be teaching older adults but I soon discovered that it was so much more than relaxing in the chair!! I began teaching it in offices as a way to take movement breaks and then I slowly began to start bringing the chair into my regular classes. I noticed more of my students were happier when using the chair and the feedback that I received was that it made the class more accessible to them and they felt it was more inclusive.
I now teach chair yoga online to a group of adults with intellectual disabilities and to say teaching them is a joy is an understatement! They have taught me so much more that I have taught them. I am always learning and adapting and striving to be a better teacher. I want everyone who comes to my class to feel included and seen. I believe everyone belongs at yoga no matter their age, size, gender, colour, creed, ability or disability.
How has Facebook/ Instagram helped you expand your client base and reach, especially over the last year with Covid?
I was devastated after closing the doors on my studio on March the 12th 2020. I felt like I was drowning in the sea of the pandemic – Facebook and Instagram were there like a lifebuoy I could hold on to. I don’t think I would have gotten through it without both platforms. They were my connection to the outside world, a way I could reach my students and keep the yoga community alive in the darkest of days. I quickly started teaching online and it was the best thing I could have done for me and my students. So many of them told me that their yoga class was the highlight of their week and kept them going when things were tough. It was fantastic that I could record the classes too so that they could do them a few times each week when they felt like it and I set up a Facebook group so that I could do Live classes and it is a great place to share yoga information and have conversations all about yoga!
As time went by, I got braver and began to make some pre-recorded content, Facebook ads helped me to directly target my specific audience. I could no longer rely on my shop front for
advertising or even word of mouth for that matter as we never saw anyone outside of our own homes! It was great how I could choose who I wanted to see my ads and I was given support by Facebook to make sure I was spending my money wisely and hitting my targets. I stopped wasting time trying to please everyone, I was able to directly target the people I wanted in a few clicks! It was so simple and I soon began to get new people signing up and coming to my online classes. I’ll never go back to hanging posters up in shops or dropping flyers to letterboxes. Facebook and Instagram are the way forward to get new clients and the pandemic has proved that!
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