Written by Panorama yoga instructor and resident, Charles Kasler. January 2016
Why are yoga students using chairs, blocks, blankets, tennis balls, bolsters (firm pillows), walls, and straps? These are all props we use to make yoga accessible for anyone. Props provide support and cushioning, “raise up the floor,” help improve posture, and compensate for differences in ability, body type and proportion. What do we do with tennis balls? Try rolling one under your foot to open up the feet. Or tossing and catching a ball while balancing on one foot to improve concentration. Props are also used in passive restorative yoga to support the body, so we can relax deeply and release long-standing tension patterns. Yoga is for anyone. We just adapt our movements to accommodate different students.
We do seated postures in chair yoga. In this way anyone can practice and benefit, even if you use a wheelchair or walker. Chairs offer stability while still allowing students to move in all directions. We also stand near a wall for balance practice so no one falls.
There are also different classes for different levels of ability: Yoga 1 is gentle for people who are limited or just beginning. Yoga 2 is for students who have experience and want to build more strength and endurance. The late afternoon class is called Moving Meditation – mixed levels with flowing movements in harmony with the breath. As one teacher says: “we move everything that’s supposed to move.” Some students have even taken two classes in the same day! Most students continue to sign up for yoga classes year after year. They can feel the difference in their quality of life. Yoga slows the aging process!
Our sitting meditation group also uses chairs, along with optional walking meditation. One of the greatest benefits of meditation is that we realize we are not our minds. Fortunately! We can have a distinct (even if momentary) experience of pure awareness, beyond the chattering mind. This is like a big weight being lifted off of our shoulders. We are more able to experience the beauty and joy of the moment. There is grace in the present moment. Meditation is a deep healing of body, mind, and soul – a refuge from today’s overload of stimulation. It’s perfect for seniors. Come join us for an adventure in the yoga and meditation program at Panorama. There’s something for everyone.