3 Empowering Chair Yoga Poses for Chronic Illness Warriors
When I was diagnosed with Addison’s disease, a chronic and incurable illness that affects the adrenal glands, I remember feeling totally powerless, out of control. I felt betrayed by my own body. I felt weak, broken, less than.
Maybe you’ve felt that way too?
These are natural responses to illness, and it’s not wrong to feel this way. But it is important that we don’t let ourselves get stuck here. I’ve realized that although I can’t control whether or not I have this illness, I can control how I choose to live with it. I can choose to love my body with whole plant foods, plenty of rest, gentle exercise and the proper medicine. This illness may be a permanent part of me, but that doesn’t mean it gets to control me.
One of the ways I like to reconnect to my inner power is by practicing grounding, standing yoga postures. These postures allow me to feel strong in body and empowered in spirit. Even on flare-up days, when I don’t feel well enough to stand on my own, I can use the support of a chair to stabilize my balance.
Here are three of my favorite empowering chair yoga poses for chronic illness warriors:
1. Tadasana – Mountain Pose
This simple yet challenging yoga pose can be modified by sitting at the edge of a flat-backed chair with the knees hip distance apart and the ankles directly below the knees. Actively root into the sit bones as you lift and lengthen through the spine and the crown of the head. The hands can rest on top of the thighs or you can bring them together at your heart center.
2. Utthita Hasta Padangusthasana – Standing Hand to Big Toe Pose Variation
From Tadasana, firmly press into the left foot and lift the right foot off the floor, hugging the right knee into your chest. Keep the sit bones pressing evenly into the seat of the chair. The spine is tall, chest proud. Hold for 10 breaths, and then practice on the opposite side.
3. Virabhadrasana II – Warrior II
To prepare for virabhadrasana II, come into tadasana, but instead of facing forward, turn your body to the right. Keep the right knee bent, and send the left leg straight back. Make sure that the heel of the front foot is in line with the arch of the back foot. Activate your legs. Use your strength. You may keep your arms at your sides, or if you’d like a challenge, you can take the arms wide, gazing over the right fingertips. Hold for five to 10 breaths, and then practice on the opposite side.
To close this practice, return to Tadasana, bring your attention to your breath and silently repeat this affirmation: “I am strong. I am capable. I am enough.”
If you give these poses a try, I’d love to hear about your experience in the comments below!
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