Chair Yoga and Lupus
Sometimes, lupus flares prevent us from doing the most simple things we love. For those who are not able to get down onto the floor to practice yoga, Lakshmi Voelker developed an entire sequence that anyone can practice yoga on a chair. It is an accessible, inclusive way for yogis to gain all the benefits of the practice without stressing their joints, supporting their body weight, or worrying about balance.
As well as people with autoimmune diseases, or anyone suffering from chronic pain or inflammation, the methodology is also ideal for heavy computer users, Lakshmi says. “Chair Yoga is great for ‘desk warriors’ in corporations—people who are confined to their chairs. They can do the eight spinal movements; they can come into Sitting Mountain throughout the day; and if they engage the press points in the feet and sit bones, they will start to build muscle and bone mass while working at their job. Anyplace they’re sitting, they can build strength, just by activating the asana or perfecting the pose.”
All Chair Yoga asanas begin with and return to Sitting Mountain. Here’s how to build this foundational pose.
1 Sit up straight near the front edge of the chair; this will engage your abdominal muscles. Imagine magnets pulling up the crown of your head and pulling down the sit bones and feet.
2 Move some of the flesh away from your sit bones and anchor them on the chair.
3 Check that your hips, knees, and ankles are at right angles.
4 Place your fists side by side between your legs, in the soft flesh right above your knees to align them hip-width apart.
5 Place feet parallel to each other, with the second toe of each foot pointing forward. Lift up toes and locate the press points on the sole of each foot (on the pad under the big and little toes, and on the center of heel). Push press points down into the floor. Relax toes back down, imagining that you are going to stand up.
6 “Zip up” the pubic bone area and meltdown the sacrum and lumbar in a gentle pelvic tilt. Draw the belly in.
7 “Swing” the heart and solar plexus forward and up.
8 Relax the arms down by your sides with the palms facing forward, and the thumbs turned back, as far as comfortable, to open the rotator cuff.
9 Roll the shoulders up, back, and down (without rounding or collapsing).
10 Place the hands on the upper legs, either palm up to receive or palm down to get grounded. Touch the thumb and pointer finger together and extend the other three fingers.
11 Lift the neck up from the “basket” of the shoulders and lift the head’s crown toward the ceiling. The chin is parallel to the floor and pressed back just slightly to align the cervical vertebra and spine.
12 Close the eyes or maintain a soft downward gaze.1 Like