Blog Post

Is Chair Yoga Real Yoga?

PM writes: "What is chair yoga?  Is it OK to do as one is not upright doing poses?"

According to Yoga Alliance, a professional organization that oversees the training of yoga instructors, chair yoga is “real” yoga.

As Joanne Spence, a chair yoga instructor explains in this article, “Historically, yoga was almost entirely non-posture based, as is evidenced by Patanjali’s Yoga Sutra 1.2. ‘Yogas citta vritti nirodhah,’ meaning ‘Yoga is the cessation of the fluctuations of the mind.’ Yoga originated as meditation practice.”

She has been teaching chair yoga for more than 10 years and reassures that “yes, this really is yoga, and no, you do not have to stand on your head or be flexible to practice.”

The reason some people don't think chair yoga is real yoga is due to distorted images of the yoga industry that present it as being the stuff of “super bendy” people, she says, then goes on to admit: “Often, these poses are achievable by only a small percentage of people practicing yoga and may even be contraindicated for most people practicing yoga.”

Chair yoga, which is frequently practiced by people who are unable to participate in traditional yoga classes due to aging or disabilities, is in the process of being formally recognized as a type of yoga. The poses are adaptions of Hatha yoga poses.

These classes are popular in senior centers, adult day care centers, and physical rehabilitation units. Participants are taught the postures, as well as the breathing and meditation techniques associated with the practice of yoga.

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