East Texas Seniors exchange Yoga mat for a Yoga chair

East Texas Seniors exchange Yoga mat for a Yoga chair

TYLER (KYTX) - Yoga isn't just for young, flexible people, who can master the most challenging of poses.  There's now a class at the Tyler Senior Center for people who can't get to the mat.

We will introduce you to Chair Yoga in Fit City.

The Chair Yoga classes are for anyone 50 and up, who wants to improve flexibility, balance and posture.  Many seniors suffer with chronic pain and that's an area Yoga is known to help.

Velma Johnson pulled out a chair instead of a mat for her yoga class at The Tyler Senior Center.
"I know I need exercise and I thought I would try that and see if it would help.  Of course it did. That's when I really started getting interested in coming," says Velma Johnson.

Like many seniors, Velma suffers from painful arthritis.  She's already had a knee and hip replacement, so getting to a mat just won't work for her, but Chair Yoga does.

"I was able to use my limbs more. I was not as stiff and I could sit longer, maybe doing sewing or reading and not get the stiffness that I had before," says Velma.
Ryann Martin, who is certified through the Yoga Alliance, modifies this gentle Yoga class for her students who prefer Chair Yoga.  "You can have the same type of yoga experience seated in a chair. It doesn't matter if you are limber or if you are strong enough to stand and balance on one leg, you are working the same muscles in the chair," says Ryann Martin.

Ryann's goal for her Yoga students is to improve their range of motion, flexibility and muscular endurance, along with their standing strength, posture and alignment.

"I want them to feel what it is like to have true correct posture and to take the exercise in a way that feels comfortable to them, while maintaining the good upper body posture.   Flexibility comes later, but we have to strengthen what they already have to work with," says Ryan.

Ryann has seen a dramatic difference in her students.

"I have seen them not be able to bend over, just to touch their toes or balance on one leg without holding onto the chair and I see my students happy.  That is my reward," says Ryann.

Velma is also reaping the rewards in just 3 months of chair yoga.  "The exercise seemingly helped relieve the pain and that's what made me really want to keep doing it," says Velma.

And with the pain relief, comes the relaxing benefits of yoga and who can't use that.  Ryann also works on yoga breathing techniques with the seniors and really encourages them to work at a pace that's right for them.

Classes cost $30 a month or $6 per session. Payments may be made in person at the Tyler Senior Center, 1915 Garden Valley Road. Participants should wear comfortable clothing and may bring a mat if they prefer to practice yoga on the floor. 

For more information, call (903) 597-0781.


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