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Sonoma County Gazette
Chair Yoga

Increasing Accessibility to Yoga
for Those with Mobility and Health Challenges

Jan 22, 2018


By Annabele Grace, RYT

When many people think of Yoga, they imagine people contorting into wild shapes or standing on their heads. They think of thin, toned women in cute spandex gracefully moving through power vinyasa flows or chanting OM and they assume yoga is just not for them. In truth, our culture has taken a very ancient practice, westernized it and marketed to appeal to a very limited demographic. Yoga can be defined simply as bringing into oneness the mind and the body. In its simplest form, yoga is moving meditation. It is about mindful breathing and movement and being present in your body exactly as you are. If you can breathe, you can do yoga! The benefits of yoga are countless. Personally, yoga has been the biggest ally in my struggle with depression and chronic pain. Regular yoga practice improves mood, concentration, body awareness and body-positivity. It can be a powerful antidote for anxiety, chronic stress and insomnia. Especially for those who are aging (and we all are!) practicing yoga a few times a week can also increase lung capacity, improve coordination and balance, increase joint mobility and strength, reduce inflammation, lower blood pressure and improve cardiovascular health! I could go on and on!

A huge barrier for people considering a yoga practice is physical limitations. Many traditional yoga classes are not accessible to people whose bodies are not able to get up and down off the mat easily due to age, past injury or any number of health challenges. This leaves out a huge portion of the population who could really benefit (maybe most!) from the practice of yoga. It is my belief that yoga is for everyone. I have been practicing yoga for over 15 years and teaching for two and a half years and I am passionate about making yoga accessible to all. 

In addition to my regular flow classes in which I offer modifications for multiple levels, I also offer two chair yoga classes geared for older adultsor anyonewho needs a gentler, more basic level class. Using the chair for seated poses and for support in simple standing postures creates accessibility for many people who could not participate in yoga before with all the same amazing benefits! I also offer private in-home sessions for those who are house-bound or prefer private lessons. One student has said,“There is a misconception that Chair Yoga is only for older adults. I was 38 when I started with Annabele at the Senior Center. I used to do Power Yoga and Pilates until I had a wrist operation. It’s been 2 years and this practice eliminated my need for opioid painkillers and with my over-all well-being.” ~ Mara Lee, Rio Nido

The beauty of yoga is that it meets you where you are at. We don’t have to do, look or be anything other than who we are in these imperfectly amazing bodies we have. Yoga ultimately is the journey of self-acceptance.If you are resolving to better your health in 2018 I encourage you check out the Chair Yoga classes I offer twice a week in Guerneville and Monte Rio:

Mindful Balancemeets Tuesdays 11:30-12:30 at the Marshall House (behind the Russian River Senior Center, Armstrong Woods Rd. Guerneville) $10 Mindfulness practice, meditation, seated and standing chair yoga with emphasis on improving balance and fall prevention. All props provided.

Chair Yogameets Thursdays 11:30-12:30 at the Monte Rio Community Center, 20488 CA-116, Monte Rio. $10 Mindfulness practice, meditation, seated and standing chair yoga poses. All props provided.

For my full class schedule or learn more about private sessions please visit:

May you be well! 


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