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Chair yoga and its benefits

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chair yogaPhoto: Shutterstock

Chair yoga has been shown to improve overall health when practiced regularly, and has proved especially impactful on people with disabilities or mobility issues.

Pain management
If you are experiencing any pain due to an injury or existing condition, chair yoga might provide you with some relief. Practicing yoga helps the body return to its optimum alignment, reducing the pain you feel over time. The calming nature of yoga movements can also coax your body to better manage and cope with the pain.

Another added advantage of chair yoga is the varying postures, which can be used to target specific problem areas. There are routines for back pain, arthritis, as well as other body parts that might be causing you trouble.

An easy pose to get you started is the forward bend, which is good for easing tension in the upper back and neck. To do this, breathe in and slowly bend forward in your chair. After which, breathe out, and let your head and arms hang over your knees. Relax and hold this position for a few seconds. Slowly return to your original position as you breathe in once more.

Other physical benefits
Besides pain management, chair yoga also offers many other physical benefits that can be helpful to those with disabilities. Some of these include boosting blood circulation, improving joint movement as well as promoting good posture and muscle health.

One of the more noteworthy benefits it can bring to those with mobility issues is increased strength, balance and flexibility. This could translate to having an easier time carrying out movements such as reaching down to pick things up or bending down to tie your shoelaces.

A great pose to improve your flexibility and strength is the side stretch. Breathe in and stretch your arms out to the side such that they are parallel to the floor. While breathing out, bend your body to the right in a manner that causes your right hand to reach toward the floor and your left hand toward the ceiling.  Breathe in and return to your original position. Repeat this with the other side.

Impact on the mind
Yoga is especially useful in reducing and managing stress, tension and anxiety thanks to the breathing techniques involved. Being calmer and more relaxed leads to a greater improvement of one’s well-being.

There is a simple breathing technique that you can do to calm your mind and ease tension. Begin by closing your eyes and note your natural breath pattern for a few moments. Then, as you breathe in, slowly count up to four. Likewise, slowly count up to four as you breathe out. You may vary the count as long you are able match the length of your inhalation and exhalation. Continue this for several minutes.

It presents opportunities to socialize
Finally, the social factor involved in practicing chair yoga is something that shouldn’t be overlooked. Find an appropriate facility that conducts classes in an environment welcoming to persons with disabilities and sign up for a session or two. Such classes serve as a good opportunity to connect with others and make friends. 
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