Thursday, November 20, 2008

Yoga In A Chair - Modified Moves Help With Flexibility, Relaxation

“If the idea of getting down on the floor to strike a yoga pose makes you say, ‘Ouch!’ instead of ‘Om!’ you can bypass mats and go directly to chairs at Urban Active. The Louisville-area health club offers a 45-minute ‘Ch. Oga’ class -- the name rhymes with yoga -- and it's literally yoga in a chair.‘It's a very beginner yoga class,’ said Jill Correll, an instructor at the club's St. Matthews location. ‘We don't get down on the floor. We do not take off our shoes.’ ‘They're doing the same poses that you would do in a regular yoga class; they're just modified, and that's to incorporate the chair,’ said Tara Schwartz, a group fitness director for Urban Active. The chairs come in handy when participants are asked to do some of the more challenging moves, such as balancing on one leg. Any Urban Active member can participate, but the class is aimed at older people, new exercisers and anyone who's overweight, Schwartz said. Some participants are from the Healthways SilverSneakers Fitness Program, which provides free health-club memberships to older adults enrolled in certain health plans. Experience is not needed to take the class. ‘It doesn't matter what level you're at,’ Schwartz said. ‘You can start and stop at any time.’ Potential benefits of taking Ch. Oga include better strength, endurance, flexibility, balance and posture, she said. The class also can be soothing. ‘For that time that you're in the class, you're focused on breathing, you've kind of let everything else go, and it's kind of just about body awareness, about where you are right then,’ she said. ‘And the breathing is huge. If you can assist someone in breathing properly, that can relieve their stress.’ ‘It's different than anything we've done before, but they're very good at explaining it,’ said Selene Spiegel of Prospect, Ky. She takes the class with her husband, Sandy, 82, and likes the idea of having a chair, ‘in case you can't do it all.’ Though there are a few tricky moves, they're not mandatory.’ ‘You do what you can, and you don't worry about it,’ said Sandy Spiegel. He said the class is helping him cope with rheumatoid arthritis by keeping him limber. For Phillips, his classmate, Ch. Oga is more about ‘deep relaxation.’ After taking it, she said, her ‘road rage’ disappears and she's more productive. ‘You get more done after you spend time here,’ she said. ‘You're just more centered.’”

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