Monday, July 15, 2013

LV Chair Yoga, the "Louis Vuitton" of Chair Yoga.

Howie, Tracey, Melinda, myself, and Lakshmi (from L)
A friend of mine who used to work for LV jokingly asked if LV Chair Yoga stands for Louis Vuitton Chair Yoga?  Yes! I do think it is an amazing program, however it is accessible to anyone unlike authentic LV merchandise!

Returning to Kripalu (in May) assisting at the Lakshmi Voelker Chair Yoga (LVCY) Teacher Training was even more enriching than the first time, now that I knew my way around the building.  I am part of a team that is making yoga accessible to anyone, no more excuses, seriously.  I still hear too often how some people are too stiff and how they can not focus or balance. 

Another Training will take place August 20-23, 2013, at the New York Open Center:

Students are sitting on a chair, nevertheless, if it is within ability,
the legs are engaged somehow (Lakshmi offers many modifications).And to throw some of you off just a bit more, if you were to use a balance ball to do chair yoga on, the level of challenge would be even a few notches up from mat yoga.  Try the full expression of vashistasana, draped over a balance ball, it's challenging, but fun!  ( a fitness ball!  Am I confusing you?
I occasionally do a few poses on the fitness ball; without the core engaged you lose balance very quickly, it seems like every cell of your body has to be present for this pose.

Chair Yoga can be adapted for any level.    
I personally love the site specific aspect of it, different chairs call for different modifications; this needs to be taken into consideration when teaching and in your own practice; my practice on a bench in Central Park looks different from the small bench I used at the Inn on Long Trail before skiing.  You may know by now that what makes self care really interesting to me is to keep it organic-creative.  Once I accepted that I was not someone that starts the day with yoga and a routine engraved in stone, it became so much more fun; it became much more empowering because I started dealing with my own reality, going with the flow but I always do something yoga; that way I have been keeping it up for almost 20 years and can not imagine ever not practicing.  

At Kripalu, I shared the dorm room with five fellow faculty assistants who were all in the same program.  They had been there for a few days.  As I got to my room, I was offered some fresh juice and some vegetable broth by one of the ladies.  Thank you, Sarah!  I was so hungry after the 3 1/2 hours bus ride.  My room mates were in some sort of a cleanse program and they prepared the food themselves.  Their faces were so vibrant; they were all glowing.   Needless to say, I immediately felt welcome and told them about the training.  Grabbing the one chair in the room, I told them about the sampler Lakshmi was doing one night during the week.  As soon as I sat down a loose screws fell on the floor; we had a good laugh and joked about the mass of prana/chi I generated simply by sitting down with the intention to demonstrate a chair yoga pose.  The tone was set for a lovely 5 days. 
They were intrigued and some made it to the sampler, unfortunately, I only had a chance to have a longer conversation with one of the ladies).  We all got very busy!  There are all these amazing programs after hours, like Lee Albert doing a hands-on presentation on Integrated Positional Therapy.
The training itself was great; Lakshmi Voelker is such a great teacher and she is so much fun, she is so skilled in allowing each student to let their essence come through very quickly.  I find that so important.  Tracey Eccleston, the wonderful young yogini/actress from Toronto is the co director and what a teacher she is!  Melinda Siegel Frisch (long term assistant) joined again (and taught a short wonderfully relaxing and grounding class everyone wanted to get details on, and first-time assistant Howard Shareff is very knowledgeable and so caring.  
It was so much fun to be around these gifted chair yoga teachers again and our students.  Again, I learned so much.  One of my favorites is when students pick each other's brain figuring out how to teach a chair asana they picked with modifications; there are lots of questions and the invitation to be creative (as long as everyone's safety is guaranteed) is another aspect that makes me love this style of yoga!  For graduation we have created a simple but festive ritual that so far has not failed to resonate with the trainees. 

Chair Yoga is beneficial to not only those who can not/do not want to get on the mat, but also to those who can not get away from their chairs (such as office employees) or are on the run.  I believe that breaks of a few minutes whenever we can squeeze them in, can release a lot of stress and improve QoL by tremendously.  Yoga Anywhere Anytime.  Personally, I have done chair yoga poses on the Staten Island Ferry on my way to do Sandy relief, airplanes, buses, even a pose here and there at the theatre, a restaurant and sometimes I even twist (very mindfully!!) while riding my bike.  I incorporate chair yoga at corporate health fairs and wellness events when I offer mini Reflexology session to make Employees aware of a more sustainable sitting posture.        

Preparations: The days leading up to my trip I reviewed the manual.  It was not until my LV chair yoga certification (after many years of practicing mat yoga) that I learned Chandra Namaskar (Moon Salutation) on the mat and then adapted by Laskhsmi for the chair.  Chandra Namaskar was created by Kripalu teachers one of whom I had the pleasure to meet at last year.  Did you know there was an Earth Salutation/Prithvi Namaskar, which Lakshmi adapted to the chair(s) as well?     

the "Melinda Sandwich" (Tracey and I with Melinda in the middle)
Lakshmi/Tracey during graduation

Self Care during my Kripalu stay: 
Although my diet is considered much above average, when I got to Kripalu last year, I was constipated for two to three days, but fortunately not this time.  About two weeks prior to the training, I replaced one to two of my daily meals with fresh juices.  I realized that it's great to have juice midday-late afternoon instead of lunch that sometimes slows me down.  It's okay for slower days, but it can create inconvenience on a busy day.  I did not do it for weight loss but for increased energy and because Juice Generation juices are so delicious.  A few days after I started I noticed some metallic taste in my mouth (see below link) which lasted four to five days.  When I got to Kripalu I was eating solid foods only and I made sure to add reconstituted prunes to my hot porridge;  I must say my digestive system worked very well.  Asides, I did my usual Chi Gong practice in the morning before class unless I took a yoga class in the morning.

Kripalu lawn on a beautiful early May day during my chi gong morning practice
Birgit Nagele, ARCB, LVCHT
ARCB-nationally certified Reflexologist 
Reflexology, LV Chair Yoga, Employee Wellness Online (new)
Private Clients, Corporate, Mobile Services, Self Care Workshops, Special Events, and Reflexology for the PUPPY
Tel: (917) 664-5792


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