I’ll be the first to admit that I guffawed when Jimmy, aka Saul Goodman, ingeniously crept his way into the hearts and minds of seniors via chair yoga in episode 10, season 3, of Better Call Saul. Laughed. Out. Loud. I should also confess that every title I thought of for this post was a pun or joke. Standing up for chair yoga. Chair yoga is no slouch. Etc.
And for more than two years, I smiled as I walked past two or three packed chair yoga classes per week, as I jetted from the treadmill to the locker room, or from “real” yoga classes to the daycare to pick up my son.
But now that I am in yoga teacher training, I am I more curious about slower practices, and feel a responsibility to know how to teach them. So last week, I decided to sit in on a chair yoga class. I had already taken an hour of Yin yoga, which is slow with long holds, and thought it sounded good to stay in that slow zone. I took a chair in the back corner near the door and scanned the room as the class progressed.
My takeaways surprised me:
- The range of participants ages and abilities was staggering. There was one woman who could not stand unassisted, there may have been others. But there were also many active bodied familiar faces from other parts of the gym. Chair yoga is not only for people who can’t do yoga any other way.
- Chair yoga is as challenging as any other form of yoga. Do chair yoga classes get your heart booming? Are they aerobic, fast power yoga or Ashtanga classes? No. But neither are restorative yoga classes.*
- Chair yoga is regular yoga, with a chair as a prop. It is not nearly as limiting as I assumed. The muscle motions, the limbs stretching, the breathing, the skeletal movements and alignment… it is yoga. Any person with an open mind, at any fitness level, can benefit from chair yoga.
Today, after an hour on the treadmill, I was walking past the gym, thinking of different places where I could stop to cool down and stretch. I noticed the staggered rows of chairs being set up in the gym. I waited until “the regulars” snagged their usual spots, then set up camp at a chair in the back, by the door. There is no better way to learn than practice.
Featured photo is from the Better Call Saul Twitter feed.
*I have elevated my heart-rate and sweat during Yin yoga, but that is a post for another day.