Chair Yoga Practice: Arthritic Toes? Yup, You Can Still Practice Yoga!

I can remember the day when my big toes said no to yoga. All the lunges, low and crescent. All the planks, high and low. All the heel lifts in chair pose and in warrior flow … my toes simple stated, “I can’t take no-mo!” They would swell, ache, and be in pain right at the big-toe joint. The benefits of my practice didn’t outweigh the discomfort of my feet after every practice. So, what was I to do, because I wasn’t fully ready to give up my practice!

Chair Yoga for All.

I had to learn to accept support. I had to embrace the notion that Chair Yoga could be beneficial to me in my forties. I had to shift my thinking of what I had come to believe as a teacher of the practice. I had to expand my idea about who a chair yoga practice could benefit. I had become comfortable sharing this practice as a teacher, and it was time for me to embrace this practice as a student for myself.

Honestly, my toes gave me the incentive and the bulging disc in my low back gave me the ultimate reason to begin to explore this practice. Like all things I started with what I knew, and what I would have taught to a class of students.  As I began to feel the benefits of less pain, freedom of movement, and the ability to keep my yoga practice going I became a believer of chair yoga for myself.

Amazing Chair Yoga Resources:

My creativity was spurred by IG accounts of other yoga teachers like Allison Ray Jeraci, Maria Bermejo, Sarah Starr, and Dimitri Delazanos. I also took an online visit to Amazon and purchased a handful of chair yoga boks. My top two favorites being, Chair Vinyasa by Delia Quigley and The First Step to Chair Yoga by Chachawen

With my exploration of chair yoga through other teachers eyes I quickly became aware that yoga supported by a chair could be whatever I desired it to be.  It could enhance all poses from seated to standing, even, much to my surprise, inversions! The most amazing news about it for me was, while I explored more advanced postures the weight of my body was supported taking pressure off of my joints. No more ache-y big toes! My toes were fully back on board with my practice of yoga again, yay!!

4 Immediate Benefits of Elevating Your Yoga Practice:

Some of the benefits you’ll notice immediately are 1) less pressure on toes in flexion, 2) less weight on the knee with the body being elevated. Some slightly less obvious benefits you might not notice readily are 3) less tension in the low back, 4) greater ability to breath with ease once settled into the posture.

Also, I must stress the real truth that elevating the posture won’t take away any of the desired outcomes of the posture. Elevating the posture only supports the parts of the body that need it while allowing the full experience of the posture, in this case, the low lunge to come forward. Extension of the hips, length in the side-body, stretch of the shoulders, core activation and increased endurance will all remain in tact. It’s a complete Win-Win situation and who can be upset about that!!?

At this point, I feel it’s needless to state that I’m excited to be sharing this practice with you today! After my personal wins and outcomes, how could I not be?  With today’s chair yoga practice, we’ll explore how to perform a low lung on the chair while flowing through to crescent lunge. I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised by this practice balance of support and effort. I think you’ll also enjoy the true attention that is needed to get the most from this practice. Take the time to notice good alignment, so you can experience the added bonus of muscle activation in the tops of your legs and your core. Along with heart elevation supporting improved endurance and a excellent stretch for the front of the hips, as well as the entire front body.

Two Things to Take Note of Before You Practice:

  1. If you have high blood pressure that isn’t being treated with medication, keep your hands sealed in a prayer position at heart you center during the parts of practice when we reach hands towards the ceiling.
  2. If you have had a hip replacement performed in the anterior (front) of your hip. Please do not overextend this stretch by simply keeping your knee in line with your hip. You don’t want to overstretch your good hips!

Go grab your stable chair without arms and grab a yoga block if you have one. If not, a stack of books or sturdy blankets could work just as well. It’s time to push play and to start practicing some elevated yoga, let’s get moving mindfully together!

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