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Gentle Chair Yoga at Spring Meadows Assisted Living in Libertyville

[This article was written and recently submitted for the July 2016 issue of the Spring Meadows newsletter.]

What do you think of when you hear the word “yoga”?

Does the word bring to mind images of thin, fit, young men and women standing on their heads or wrapping their legs around their necks? Do you think of something “new age” or religious in some way?

Yoga is many different things to different people, depending on a person’s background and experience. Despite the explosive popularity of yoga in the U.S. today, for those unfamiliar with the practice, misconceptions are still common. At its simplest, yoga is a way to stretch the body, calm the mind, and to find improved health – both physically and mentally.

What are some of the benefits of yoga?

“Yoga provides physical and mental strength, balance and flexibility. It improves coordination. It improves mood. It has been used for thousands of years to treat common (and uncommon) medical conditions.”

from Healing Yoga (L. Fishman)

“The benefits of yoga include improving balance, decreasing stress, increasing flexibility, strengthening bones, stabilizing blood pressure, reducing pain and injuries, developing and toning muscles, and helping us age more gracefully. ”

from Anywhere, Anytime, Any Body Yoga (E. Slonina)

In October of 2015, yoga came to Spring Meadows. The Wednesday 10:00 a.m. exercise class became a gentle chair yoga class to benefit Spring Meadows residents.

In our chair yoga class, traditional yoga postures and techniques are modified so that they can be done while sitting comfortably in a chair. We sometimes practice with props, as well, to help keep things interesting – such as light weights, yoga straps, yellow stretchy bands, and blue inflatable balls.

If you’re wondering whether you are physically able enough to practice yoga, rest assured – you are, and you can! It’s often said that “if you can breathe you can do yoga.” The poses that are introduced in class are gentle and relaxing – and you are reminded to listen to your own body and only take the poses as far as it feels good for you. “There is no pain in yoga.”

There are some residents that come to yoga class nearly every Wednesday – others attend now and then. All seem to enjoy it.

Here is what some of the Spring Meadow yoga regulars have to say about the class:

“I was familiar with the definition [of yoga], but I didn’t know much about it. I found that there are a lot of similarities between the two [exercise class and yoga class]. There’s exercise in yoga and yoga in exercise.” (Vance)

“It keeps me in shape, and it’s very peaceful.” (Victoria)

“At my age, 98, I find that it’s very invigorating and very important for my body.” (Margaret)

“It’s very relaxing, and you feel so much better when you leave.” (Audrey)

“It makes me relax, which is hard for me to do.” (Doris)

“Your blood flows, and when you close your eyes it seems like you’re floating in air.” (Al)

“It always leaves me with a peaceful feeling.” (Andy)

“Everyone should come to yoga class. Everyone can benefit.” (Natalie)

Typically at the end of a yoga class, the yoga instructor will bring hands to heart center and offer the Sanskrit salutation “Namaste.” Namaste literally translates to English as, “I bow to you.” It is a beautiful and respectful way to end a yoga class and to thank those who have participated.

I thank you for taking the time to read this article, and to learn a bit about yoga. I hope that you’ll consider joining us for Gentle Chair Yoga on Wednesday’s, 10:00-10:30 a.m.


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