Chair yoga: exercise for everyone
By Kelly O'Connor - The Desert Sun

Does yoga look a bit complicated?  Think you need more flexibility or strength to get into those positions?

Not with chair yoga.

"Anyone who sits in a chair can do it," said Palm Springs yoga instructor Lakshmi Voelker-Binder.

And, she adds, chair yoga offers the same benefits as traditional yoga – increasing flexibility, improving breathing and focus and toning the muscles of the body.

Voelker-Binder teaches public and private classes throughout the valley.  She said the exercises are ideal for the aging community and those with disabilities who may not be able to exercise on the floor.

The following chair yoga poses are demonstrated by Voelker-Binder.  Deep breathing and concentration are an important part of each position.

Consult a physician before starting any new exercise program.

Warrior poses

PEACEFUL WARRIOR : stretches inner groin area.

For beginners: Turn to the right in your chair and extend left leg while pressing heel back.  Raise arms above head with palms facing in.  Shoulders should be down and relaxed.  Look up. Repeat on other side.

EXALTED WARRIOR: Once comfortable in the peaceful warrior pose, try the advanced pose for a deeper stretch. Interlace fingers with pointer fingers pointing up.  Arch your back.  Repeat on other side.

ANGLE WARRIOR : stretches upper-body musclesand shoulders.

For beginners: Sit in chair with legs placed on the ground at a 90-degree angle.  Right hand is grasping chair while the left arm reaches over head. Palm faces forward. Repeat on other side.

Advanced pose: Right hand lowers to the shin, ankle or floor, whichever is comfortable.  Left arm is straight up with palm facing forward.  Left leg is extended with toes pointed.  Look up.  Repeat on other side.

Double chair exercises

Use two chairs for the following poses.

FORWARD BEND: to stretch the kidney area.

While seated in one chair, extend legs forward on the chair in front of you.  Stretch forward as far as is comfortable.

COBBLER'S POSE: straightens and lengthens spine, improves posture, tones gluts and abs.

Wrap legs, in a butterfly position, around the back of the chair in front of you.  Hands should be down and to the side.  Hold for as long as is comfortable.

TREE POSE : promotes balance.

For beginners: Sit on the edge of the chair.  Raise arms above head.  Place palms together.  Rest right ankle on left ankle.  Switch feet and repeat.

Advanced: Once comfortable in the beginners' pose, rest one ankle on the knee of the opposite leg for a deeper stretch.

STICK : Strengthens leg and arm muscles, tones abs.

Extend right leg, holding it at the knee.  Point and flex the foot.  Eyes should be focused on toes.