Can Anyone Do Yoga?

by Sarah Starr

Can anyone do yoga? Short answer is yes. Yoga, at its core, is a breath practice. If you can breathe, you can do a form of yoga. The next question you may ask is what if I have limited mobility? If you can’t get up or down off the ground for whatever reason, inflexibility, injuries, arthritis, problems with balance, even a lifelong situation, accessible yoga is always an option. Most people believe they have to be flexible before they begin a yoga practice but the opposite is true.

People from all walks of life continue to demonstrate to me multiple ways yoga has changed their lives. From a retired F8 pilot who gave up on ever skydiving again and is now pain free, to a viewer who was feeling hopeless after twisting her ankle badly but persevered by implementing yoga in bed and is now able to walk again. These are just two examples out of the many which we receive every day due to our accessible yoga series. No matter what your physical condition or abilities, the key is to start where you are at and go from there.

By using a chair for support we can modify a traditional yoga practice to make it more accessible. This gives everyone of every ability the opportunity to do yoga and experience its life enhancing benefits. Below are a few stretches to help you increase flexibility, improve balance, and create a toned, relaxed body. 

Tree Pose

  1. Stand with your right hip closest to the chair, using the chair for support. Shift your weight into your right foot. 
  2. Cross your left ankle over your right, keeping your left heel raised and your left knee pointing open to the left.
  3. Continue here or place your left foot to your right calf muscle below your knee.
  4. For more of a challenge, use your left hand to place your left foot to the top of your right thigh. To increase this stretch reach your left arm to the sky.

Release and repeat on the opposite side, holding for the same amount of time.

Tips

  • Place your foot above or below your knee rather than pressing into your knee joint.
  • Lengthen your tailbone towards the earth.
  • Lightly firm your lower ribs in.
  • Press the sole of your left foot into your inner right thigh, equally pressing your thigh back into your foot, pointing your left knee open to the left.
  • Keep your pelvis in a neutral position. 
  • Lightly lift through your lower belly, using your core to stabilize. 

Benefits

  • Improves balance, focus and concentration
  • Stretches legs, hips and torso
  • Strengthens legs, ankles, calves and core

Warrior 2 Pose

  1. Walk your feet over to the right side of your chair.
  2. Keep your right thigh to the chair as you extend through your left leg. Align your right heel with your left heel, turning your left toes inward at a 45 degree angle. Extend strongly through your left leg as you root down through the outer edge of your left foot. 
  3. Raise your arms parallel to the earth, reaching energetically through your fingertips. Turn your gaze to look over the right hand.

Release and repeat on the opposite side, holding for the same amount of time.

Tips

  • Keep your right knee over your right ankle.
  • Lengthen your tailbone towards the earth, keeping your pelvis in a neutral position.
  • Rather than leaning forward over your front leg, align your shoulders over your hips, keeping the sides of your torso equally long.
  • Lightly lift through your lower belly. 
  • Stretch your arms from the space between your shoulder blades, keeping your shoulders relaxed.
  • Broaden across your collar bones and lengthen the space between your shoulder blades.

Benefits

  • Strengthens your legs, glutes, abdomen and ankles
  • Stretches your hips, legs, groins and chest
  • Improves focus and concentration

Figure Four Stretch

  1. Lie on your back with your knees bent.
  2. Place your right outer ankle to the top of your left thigh, keeping your right foot lightly flexed and in line with your right knee.
  3. Reach your right hand under your right calf muscle, using your hands to draw your left leg towards you, pausing when your feel a gentle stretch in your right outer hip and glute. 

Release and repeat on the opposite side, holding for the same amount of time.

Tips

  • Keep your right foot flexed, pointing your right knee open to the right, stretching through your right outer hip.
  • Maintain your sacrum to the earth as you draw your legs towards you.
  • Keep your spine and back of neck long.
  • To intensify this stretch, try adding resistance by pressing your leg against your hands.

Benefits

Increased mobility and flexibility in your hips, glutes, hamstrings and low back

If you enjoyed this accessible yoga segment and are interested in more Happy Yoga, please visit our streaming site for 3 free full length videos at https://www.happyyogaondemand.com/

Note: If you have any physical impairments or limitations, please be sure to check with your physician before using this or any of Sarah's programs.

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