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Chair yoga and me

Do you find yourself sleep walking through your daily exercise regimen and not getting the benefit you once did? If so, it may be time to try new activities that challenge your muscles in different ways. This is why I agreed to try chair yoga, even though I knew it wasn't going to be a good fit for me. Why did I think that? Let me count the ways.

1. As someone who prefers fast-paced activities like Wii boxing and swimming laps, yoga moves much too slowly for me. In fact, I'm convinced that paint dries on a wall faster. This is not to say that I find yoga too easy; simply too boring -- not to mention unfulfilling. If I'm going to stretch and reach for an hour, there better be something I really want at the other end, like a chocolate malt.

2. It is next to impossible for me to maintain silence for a whole hour in a room full of people ... or even in an empty room for that matter. I always have some thought I feel compelled to share with those around me, or those talking to me through cable tv news, which is usually playing in whatever room I'm in. I know this defeats the relaxation benefit of yoga, but it gets my heart rate up, and that's important, too.

3. I am not open to guided meditation. Listening to the instructor hypnotically encourage me to imagine my spine is a bungee cord reaching down into Mother Earth for energy makes me giggle rather than release negative emotions and achieve deep relaxation. I peel open one eyelid to see how many of my classmates are buying into this. Apparently all of them, as their eyes are closed and they appear lost in concentration.

As much as I dislike chair yoga, it could have been worse. I could have been talked into trying "hot yoga" in a room where the temperature is nearly 100 degrees and the humidity 40%. This is NOT the environment for those of us whose bodies no longer do a good job of automatically regulating body temperature. Still, there is the very appealing promise that participants can burn 350 - 600 calories in a single class, loosen tight muscles, and cleanse their bodies by promoting profuse sweating. Now I ask you, what's wrong with an old-fashioned shower?

Who am I kidding? Yoga of any kind is not for me. Yes, I noticed measurable improvements in my flexibility and balance that allowed me to tie my own shoes again, but there are many other ways to stretch and strengthen the same muscles and also enjoy it. Being honest about your likes and dislikes, and what you can and can't do, will help you choose activities you can stay with over time.

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