I was one of those people who found yoga to be extremely boring. Hot yoga or cardio-based yoga would always be fun for me, but stretching for an hour just seemed uninteresting.
However, when I started the fast-paced, heavy-workload life of college at the University of Maryland, all I wanted to do was slow down, and yoga was the perfect solution. After being more consistent with it my freshman year, it was an escape — a place where time stopped.
This year, much of my exercise has consisted of walking up and down those steep campus hills. To relieve the soreness of my body, I decided to try a yoga class with a new twist: chair yoga. In other words, doing yoga stretches while incorporating a chair.
I was pleased with this virtual workout as it was equally engaging and relaxing, which was just what I needed to get a deep stretch and take a break from the world’s chaos.
I went to a class streamed on the University Recreation and Wellness’ fitness YouTube channel on Sept. 29 from 6 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. One of the biggest pros of this session is the virtual aspect makes it so much easier to fit in your schedule.
To prepare, I simply cleared the common space in my apartment and grabbed a chair and my computer. To enhance the unwinding experience, I lit a rose and sandalwood scented candle.
The class was named “Chair Yoga with Tatiana T.” The instructor’s peaceful and joyful energy radiated through the screen, making the experience more personable and less of a distant, virtual class.
The first thing we did was sit down on our chairs, close our eyes and breathe. Focusing on your breathing helps you stay present in the moment. It was like all my worries and tasks temporarily floated away. Moments like these help me to recharge and move on with the day.
Then, we gradually transitioned from light shoulder and neck stretches to half-body folds all while sitting. The intensity picked up a bit with a sumo squat a few inches off the chair with our hands to the side.
The stretches helped me loosen up. It wasn’t the craziest workout I’ve ever had — I didn’t feel that intense burn that sometimes one feels during exercise, but that wasn’t what I was hoping to gain from the class anyway. I wanted a break, a stretch that wasn’t harsh, while still moving around and taking care of my body.
Besides, everybody is different and others might find chair yoga more intense — and that’s okay.
The instructor reiterated that everyone could modify the pose based on their level and what made them more comfortable.
Beyond being accessible for people who might not be comfortable for an in-person fitness class, it’s inclusive toward people who have more difficulty getting up off the ground. The structure of this class gives people in any place the chance at a well-deserved stretch.
The one thing I had difficulty with was the lunges on the chair. I chose a chair that was a bit tall, so my short legs had to constantly reach for the ground. I definitely recommend using a chair on the shorter side in order to effectively hit every pose.
Reaching the end of the class, I sat cross-legged on the chair with my eyes closed for the cool-down phase. I love this transition in yoga as it helps me center my body and thoughts, as well as be present even after the class.
The class rejuvenated me and helped me get through my two-hour night class that I had shortly after. I recommend anyone who needs a pause from life or simply wants to be more active to play a relaxing playlist and try out chair yoga.