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What to expect in an adaptive yoga class.

Not all yoga classes are created equal. Luckily, there is a style of yoga that's inclusive and welcoming to all people, regardless of physical limitations. It is suitable for beginners, people with injuries, and folks with disabilities. Many classes that fit this description may be called "Adaptive Yoga" or "Chair Yoga" at local studios.

If you’re a beginner to Adaptive Yoga, you may be nervous about attending a class because yoga is often portrayed by people doing handstands on the side of massive cliffs and acts that resemble Cirque du Soleil contortionists. It may ease your mind and encourage you to attend an adaptive yoga class if you know what to expect. Many instructor's teaching styles vary, but here's a general idea of what you'll experience.

Part One:

  • Introduction - from the teacher and theme of the class

  • Dharma talk - Discussion on yoga philosophy, stories, and traditions.

Part Two:

  • Breathing practices, also called Pranayama. Here are my top 3:

  • Sama Vritti: same fluctuation. Equal timing of the inhales and exhales.

  • Physiological sigh: inhale through your nose as slowly and deeply as you can then hold the breath for a moment. Inhale a tiny bit more air and hold the breath again. Slowly exhale through the nose.

  • Box Breathing: inhale for a count of 4, hold the breath for a count of 4, exhale for a count of 4, hold the breath at the end of the exhale for a count of 4. Inhale for a count of 4 and repeat the process for a couple of minutes.

  • Chanting/mantra - group singing has been a part of human traditions for thousands of years. It’s unfortunate that we don’t do it more often. You may sing songs in Sanskrit, English, or from other spiritual traditions.

  • You do not have to sing if you don’t want to. Sanskrit is the 2nd oldest known language in the world and it’s super interesting to study the roots of yoga.

Part 3:

  • Physical Poses

  • Poses for grounding, expansion, rhythm, and turning internally.

  • Strengthening the proximal muscle groups accessible to you - glutes, core, shoulder girdle, spinal stabilizing muscles

  • Moving through Sun Salutations

  • Balancing poses - can be seated or standing

  • Stretching major muscle groups: quads, hamstrings, glutes, core, spinal extensors, chest, etc.

Part 4:

  • Shavasana or Meditation

  • You can lie down or stay seated in a chair. Closing the eyes and focusing on letting go and being still. Can focus on interoception - focusing on the internal workings of the body. For example, the breath, heart rate, tapping into your energetic centers. Or you can focus on exteroception - the room or space you are in.

  • Class is closed. Some people say namaste, some choose not to say it based on feelings of authenticity and respect.

Remember, everyone's class will be unique and different but this is a general framework many teachers follow. In my experience, I have found some teachers who resonated with me and other's who I didn't feel so magnetized towards. When you are ready, your teacher will appear. Please reach out to us if you have any inquiries!

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