Body, Mind, Spirit Magazine

Take a Seat

By Healingyoga

Years ago when I went to one of my first yoga-related trainings, I was required to sit on a hardwood floor for hours at a time. Like most Americans, my body was used to chairs, so sitting on the floor felt uncomfortable. There was a lot of shifting, squirming, and propping (and some whining) going on, that's for sure. The teacher, who spent a great deal of time in Thailand -- sitting on dirt floors -- chuckled at our inability to sit on the floor. 

At the time I wasn't amused by the teacher's amusement. Still, from that day on, I spent more time on the floor. My body become more accustomed to sitting on the floor. These days, I can sit on the floor for quite some time before I feel any discomfort. 

Of course I still spend a fair amount of time in a chair. In fact, I've spent a lot of time trying different chairs throughout the years: something similar to the YogaChair, a ball chair, and all sorts of ergonomic chairs. I've even toyed with the idea of buying a Sukasana chair. <SIGH> I'm never happy with my chairs. Perhaps it's that teacher's words all those years ago regarding the benefits of sitting on the floor. 

Nowadays, chairs have been villanized. Since I've never been happy with my desk chairs, I've thought about chucking them all and going with a Treadmill Desk. Yep, I've read the stories about burning calories, better health, etc. I'm tempted.

Still, I find myself doing other things to combat the chair blues. I spend 5 or more minutes each day inverted (it feels so good to counter the effects of gravity). And when I do have to sit, I take multiple breaks throughout the day. I've now made the chair my friend. After years of stupidly relegating chair yoga to the land of the elderly and/or infirm, I do plenty myself.

My favorite Chair Yoga routines are simple -- I do a simple forward fold by gently rolling down until my chest is resting on my thighs (you can put a pillow on your thighs if resting directly on them is too intense or uncomfortable) while my arms hang down bonelessly at my sides. After a few minutes resting in this posture, I do a seated Pigeon -- I place my ankle on the opposite knee (foot flexed to take pressure off the knee) and I roll down so that my chest is resting on the bent leg, arms hanging down over the leg. After a minute of so in this pose, I do the other side. In a mere three or four minutes I'm feeling pretty darned happy about sitting in a chair.

If you've been like me -- writing off Chair Yoga to the elderly and/or those dealing with injuries, I encourage you to try it. Take 5 minutes, push your chair away from your desk and give it a try:

Chair Yoga from Chopra Center on Vimeo.

Yes, some days I still long for a Treadmill Desk, but Chair Yoga breaks have given new meaning to the term easy seat.


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