Therapeutic chair yoga: The Who, What, When, Why & How

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Fellow LPS Team member and Physical Therapy Assistant Tara Spaw Fronczek began our Therapeutic Chair Yoga program last year. Recently, I picked her brain to gain a better understanding of the details of the class. 

BC: Tell us what Therapeutic Chair Yoga is intended to do.

TF: Chair yoga is intended to gently stretch tight muscles and strengthen the whole body in order to help improve functional mobility and prevent injury. 

BC: For whom is Therapeutic Chair Yoga best suited?

TF: Chair Yoga is suited for EVERY body at any level of yoga experience.  We have clients who have had joint replacement surgery, back surgery, as well as shoulder and lower extremity injuries, and they all perform this class beautifully.  Chair yoga is great for those who have difficulty getting onto the floor, as most exercises are performed while sitting or standing. My intention for those clients is that this class will prepare them to participate in a beginner or gentle yoga class. 

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BC: As a full-time Physical Therapy Assistant, do you use physical therapy techniques in the classes?  

TF: Absolutely!  My entire approach is from a therapeutic basis. This class should “feel good.” We are careful to avoid pain while still producing great results. Modifications and variations are always available. And questions are encouraged. We often discuss the benefits of the exercises and how that translates to daily life. I feel it is important for our clients to understand the lasting effects of Chair Yoga. 

BC: Describe the flow of a Therapeutic Chair Yoga class.

TF: Chair Yoga class begins with simple movements and breathing techniques to awaken each area of the body. Then we progress to gentle strengthening and balance exercises and finish with a serious of stretches to quiet the body and the mind. 

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BC: Are yoga mats used?

TF: We do use yoga mats under our chairs for safety and during an optional Svasana, or final relaxation pose lying supine on the mat, at the end of class. 

BC: Do students spend their entire time on the chair, or are they guided in floor poses as well? 

TF: The chair is used during the majority of our class. It is especially helpful when practicing seated/assisted versions of warrior and triangle poses which help our clients progress to an unassisted version of these poses; again helping them transition to a gentle or beginner class. We also use the chairs to assist with balance during standing exercises. 

BC: What should students wear to class? 

TF: Attire should be comfortable and allow the client to move easily. Shoes can be worn for clients who prefer the support. Bare feet are always welcome. 

BC: Do students need to bring anything with them such as a yoga mat or blanket? 

TF: LPS provides all necessary class-related items. However, the client is welcome and encouraged to bring a bottle of water. 

Join Tara for Therapeutic Chair Yoga 10:30-11:30 a.m. every Saturday.

Light & Peace,

Tara & Brynn :) 

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