Registered Yoga Teacher (200 hours), Certified Chair Yoga Teacher (60 hours), Certified Somatic Yoga Level I (21 hours)
Chair yoga is a yoga practice done seated in a chair, or standing using the chair for support. Like yoga blocks and bolsters, a chair is simply a prop to make the practice more accessible. It provides a safe foundation to explore the many benefits of a regular yoga practice within your present range of motion and ability. Chair yoga is suitable for anyone who would like to develop a gentle yoga practice, especially people living with chronic pain and illnesses or physical injuries and limitations. A typical class includes about 45 minutes of seated postures and 10 minutes each of breathing/meditation practice, standing poses (optional), and guided relaxation.
My intention in providing chair yoga is to help you develop a safe and mindful practice as part of your healing toolkit, and to make the practice of yoga more accessible to our community. If I were to describe my teaching philosophy in four words, it would be healing, compassionate, encouraging, and fun! I believe in the healing power of self-compassion to transcend difficulties and follow your dreams.
I discovered Yoga in 1997 when my first teacher, Paula Densley, introduced me to Hatha Yoga and meditation practice during lunchtime classes at work each week. I had already been chronically ill with a then-unknown illness for 7 years. Despite pursuing many Western and alternative healing modalities, and walking, cycling and doing circuit training, I remained sick and experienced crushing fatigue. My weight doubled due to various medications, and my self-confidence flagged. The practice of Yoga returned to me a sense of personal mastery, and a positive experience of a body that had been my enemy for so long.
In 1999, I moved to Canada, and lost touch with the practice that had supported me. In 2010, following several major health crises, I found my way back to Yoga at Harmony Yoga. I again took up a weekly practice with Deborah Carruthers, who even more importantly introduced me to the philosophies and self-compassion practices that put me on the long road back to improved health. I continue to learn also from Tara Brach and Toni Bernhard – Buddhist teachers who live with chronic pain and illness – and many others.
Many people live with chronic pain and illness, including autoimmune and inflammatory diseases, chronic fatigue syndrome/ME, fibromyalgia, arthritis, MS, depression, anxiety, and other mood disorders. These illnesses are often called “invisible illnesses” as nothing appears outwardly wrong with the sufferer. However, the impact of these invisible illnesses on a person’s quality of life can be immense.
Widespread musculoskeletal pain, joint pain, fatigue, depression, anxiety, dizziness, cognitive disruption (brain fog), loss of fitness, weight gain due to prescribed medications, are just some common manifestations of these illnesses. In some cases, multi-organ systemic involvement can leave the sufferer home- or bed-bound with little opportunity to interact with others. Isolation and its impact on mood are just some of the social repercussions of these illnesses.
“Flares” of illness often require long periods of rest, during which time the body becomes deconditioned. Undertaking a regular yoga class at those times is often a recipe for injury and frustration. I know how easy it is to become discouraged and give up on a practice that ultimately offers many benefits.
I have lived with several invisible illnesses since 1988, including primary Sjogren’s syndrome (an autoimmune disease), fibromyalgia, endometriosis, PCOS, depression, anxiety and chronic pain.
In 2014, I decided the need for classes to meet the special challenges faced by people with invisible illnesses was so great that I undertook the 200-Hour Yoga Teacher Training program at Harmony Yoga, and the 60-Hour Chair Yoga Certification with Yoga Vista, despite the considerable challenges involved.
The established benefits of a regular yoga practice include improved strength, flexibility, balance, and sleep; improved respiratory and cardiovascular health; and reduced stress, chronic pain, anxiety, and depression. I encourage you to try Yoga to improve your well-being and quality of life. If you would like to ask me questions about developing a safe Yoga practice, I welcome you to contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
I express deep gratitude to the compassion, encouragement, and wisdom of my primary teachers, Deborah Carruthers, Paula Densley, and Sherry Zak Morris, who showed me that yoga is for everybody, and how to find my own path.