Ellen and I tried something new today, ‘chair yoga’. It does exactly what it says on the tin, there’s a chair and you sit on it whilst performing modified yoga poses. The session was run by our local Mencap group and I thought it would be a winner with Ellen as it combines two things she loves doing – sitting down and posing.
It was a relaxed class, and the teacher was open to the idea of her students attempting the full pose, or a simplified version or even just watching if they didn’t feel like joining in. I’m not sure, however, that she was prepared for Ellen standing during most of the class, nor the fact that when she was told to rotate her feet, Ellen rotated her hands and then continued to do the opposite of what she was supposed to be doing. Every time she caught my eye, she whispered ‘Tesco’ at me, the thought of the post-exercise dolly mixtures obviously forefront in her mind.
The hour went quickly though as we became ‘waving trees’ saying hello to each other and performed a singing chant (Ellen didn’t sing, but did follow the actions). The class ended with a meditation, where we sat in staff pose (which basically meant sitting on the chair), closed our eyes and tried to put ourselves into the moonlit infinity pool which was being described in great detail by the instructor. It did indeed take quite a lot of concentration to try and block out the couple at the table behind us rustling their crisp packets and the group in the anti-chamber having a heated discussion about whether or not a certain number had been called out in the bingo.
Perhaps the best line of all however was delivered by Beatrice, a vocal young woman who had sat at the front of the class, not participating physically, but keeping up a verbal flow throughout the hour; ‘I don’t want to do that’, ‘that hurts my leg’ ‘why are we doing this?’ or ‘I’m putting my shoes back on’. Her carer had long since given up asking her to keep quiet and the instructor had also abandoned the attempt to actually answer the questions and simply carried on through the heckling. ‘You’re a great teacher’ Beatrice declared as the class came to an end, and the unexpectedness of her approbation made us all laugh.
Yoga is indeed, for everyone.