“So why did you decide to give yoga a try?” – I asked a new student once. “Well, – she said – I tried to back out of my garage the other day and discovered that I could not turn my head to see behind my car. My spine feels like a steel rod and that is not a good feeling.”
Our daily tasks require some basic spinal mobility, whether you are backing your car, putting on your shoes or unloading your dishwasher. We can get around it somewhat in a standing position by using the legs and turning the entire upper body as a unit, but it is much harder to do that in a seated position when the pelvis is fixed. Besides, who wants to move like a robot anyway? There are, of course, many other advantages of having a supple and flexible spine. Joseph Pilates put it best: “You are only as old as your spine. If your spine is inflexibly stiff at 30, you are old; if it is completely flexible at 60, you are young!!!”
That is why any yoga practice should take the spine through the full range of motion. In chair yoga we forget about it sometimes or worry that it will be too much for some students. Most of the time those fears are unfounded, since we can adapt any chair yoga pose by propping the body with arms, blankets or bolsters. Also, moving in and out of the pose is an excellent way to access the student’s range of motion before holding the pose.
This yoga practice takes the spine through the full range of motion and is useful for neck and upper back tension. The entire practice is done sitting in a chair, and you can easily add to it by including standing yoga poses. Please give it a try and notice how having a mobile spine affects the way you feel physically, energetically and mentally.