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The image of Jane Fonda performing a downward dog at a tender age over 80 will forever be etched in our brains.

Maybe Jane is the sole reason you resist the urge to get out of bed for a yoga class. Perhaps your sleep is off. Or your hip or leg is telling you to stay put.

Let today be the day to reconsider your relationship with yoga. Chair yoga class at Credit River Retirement Residence in Streetsville, Mississauga, is designed to address your physical and mental needs, whatever your fitness level may be. Showing up is often times the toughest part, yet this step alone will go a long way towards improving both your mood and health.

If you take anything away from this read, know that a chair yoga class is as much for you as it is for dear Jane.

7 Reasons Why You Should Show Up For A Chair Yoga Class Even if Your Body Says No Thank You

1. Bob up and down like a yo-yo? Not a chance. Chair yoga — sometimes referred to as slow and gentle yoga — has less up and down business than regular yoga, and it’s a bit slower. The class is typically divided into three segments: A seated warm-up — where the big muscle groups are warmed up, and the joints, from the toes to the jawbone, are opened. Next is the stand-up period, followed by the seated warm-down.

2. Meet your instructor: a trained professional. Sheri is one of the yoga instructors at the Credit River Retirement Residence. Having taught yoga for nine years, she considers each participant’s ability and fitness level and encourages residents one-on-one throughout the class.

So come as you are.

Sheri doesn’t march around the room with a clipboard, taking notes of who’s standing, who’s sitting. During the stand-up segment, residents are encouraged to hold on to the chair for support. If you have weak knees, then you’re invited to perform all the exercises while seated.

“Listen to your body,” she counsels. “It will tell you what you can do. Challenge your body if it’s ready. Pass if you need to. All is good.”

3. Maintain your independence. Balance and stability exercises, which are a vital component of yoga, are essential for daily activities, such as getting out of a chair or getting into a bath.

Poses that strengthen the core help residents when they are getting dressed and putting on slacks. A simple shimmy to the front of the chair and the working of the hip flexors can pay dividends for maintaining your ability to keep mobile and active.

4. Let yoga calm the mind. Need we say more? If you didn’t get a good night’s rest and wake up a bit more anxious than you like, consider taking a yoga class. Diana, a regular attendee of yoga at the Credit River Retirement Residence, says yoga calms her mentally.

Even on days when she might not want to go, she goes. “I know that I will feel good after I do yoga. And I know that I’ll regret it if I don’t go.”

5. Improve your cognitive skills. When we think of ways to sharpen our cognitive abilities, yoga may not necessarily come to mind. But Sheri points out the benefits of engaging in the process of listening to instructions and coordinating one’s body to follow suit.

When she instructs residents to bring the left elbow to the right knee, the resident may not get the move right the first time — but a gentle reminder usually helps. (Ultimately, the participant should do what makes sense for his or her body.)

But here’s your takeaway —the actual practice of going through the motion of listening and following instructions can keep the brain alert.

6. Go for the friendly banter. Though sweet soothing music plays softly in the yoga studio, there’s also a friendly banter between the instructor and the residents. Who doesn’t want to hear, “Are you okay?” “Lovely balance,” “Wonderful.”

The yoga instructor is your personal encourager, and we all could use one in our life. If for no other reason — show up for the comradery. What can be more uplifting than a smile of recognition from a fellow resident?

7. Get out of Dodge — Spending too much time alone can stir up bad energy. Boredom can set in. Your mood can sour. Make an effort to get out from under the blanket, walk away from the TV, or simply head outside. Yoga class is as good an excuse as any to leave your comfort zone — if only for a bit.

So here’s your challenge. Give yoga a chance.

A yoga instructor visits the Credit River Retirement Residence once a week. Wherever you live, and even if you’ve never tried chair yoga, ask your local instructor if you can sit at the back of a class and watch. Notice how everyone has found their own way of moving their bodies.

When you’re ready, try a stretch. How does it feel?

Your love for stretching may not develop overnight. But it’ll happen.

Until then, come for the change of venue, the conversation, and get ready to meet the calmer, more energized you.

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