I Get By With a Little Help from My Chair

By iShine Ambassador Amber Kay Miller

I went through a long bout with chronic migraines and fatigue last year. It was near the end of yoga teacher training and I was low energy. As part of our training we tried various types of yoga classes and we were introduced to a glorious yoga prop---the chair.

The old friend instantly engulfed me in a steady hug filled with quiet strength. Long-time friends are comfortable, supportive, and ok to lean on from time to time.

Chair yoga home practice. 2017.

Chair yoga home practice. 2017.

It’s not natural for me to ask for help, to rest. I want to do it all on my own, not having to rely on others.

You just call on me brother, when you need a hand. We all need somebody to lean on.
— Bill Withers

I overheard a student telling another teacher the last class was really hard. The teacher replied, “But how did you feel at the end of practice?” 

The chair practice was grounding and peaceful. With the support of a chair I was able to relax and drop into my breath, my body awareness heightened. I’m 6’3” and the “right” way to do a yoga asana (pose) is not always the same for me as someone who is 5’3”, our body structures and flexibility are all different. I explored warrior asanas more deeply than I’d ever been. I could hold the poses longer and build strength. My alignment felt on point.

Like an unspoken glance between sisters, the chair understood exactly what my body needed in a pose. I stopped thinking about what my body couldn’t do and instead noticed what my body was able to do in the moment and how strong I was.

You don’t have to be on a mat or standing or have Gumby flexibility to do yoga; you just have to breathe.

I regularly interact with people intimidated by yoga classes in studio due to injuries, lost flexibility and balance, or low stamina from a recent injury or illness. I want yoga to be accessible to every body so we can all experience the endless benefits of yoga. I thought back to my friend that brought steadiness and ease to my practice, the chair.

Mandatory chair yoga with family. Thanksgiving 2017. 

Mandatory chair yoga with family. Thanksgiving 2017. 

I hope fellow yogis and yoginis like the one below will come and take a seat with me.

 Three years ago I fell and had to overcome some difficult injuries. After a long rehab I couldn’t bring myself to start exercising. Several months ago I developed sciatica. After it resolved I decided to try yoga in an attempt to ward off a recurrence. 
This is one of the best decisions I have made. While my strength and balance are lacking, I see improvements in my flexibility and overall feeling of wellness. When Amber told me about her class on chair yoga I knew it would be perfect for my needs. I hope to gain strength and improve my balance. This will enhance my yoga practice. I feel like a new person in mind, body and soul since starting yoga. I am looking forward to beginning the chair yoga class!
— Anne Beasley

Asking for help reveals strength, not weakness.  Sometimes you just need a friend to help you on your way.

B.K.S. Iyengar defines a yoga prop as, “any object that helps stretch, strengthen, relax, or improve the alignment of the body.”

Over time we may rely on our chair friend less and less, but will know it is always there if we need it. 

Questions? Comments?  We'd love to hear from you!
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