Yoga brings unlikely yogis together!

September 8, 2011

Gail demonstrating the piriformis bounce exercise to get the hip musculature ready for seated pigeon pose.  #chairyogafitness
Seated Pigeon on the chair with Gail

Port Arthur News article about…..Yoga brings unlikely yogis

Brandon Janes The Port Arthur News NEDERLAND — At the end of her class, Nederland yoga instructor Gail Pickens-Barger asks her students to meditate on how they are unique and “there is nobody like you in the universe.”

Her students suffer from multiple sclerosis, a chronic, unpredictable disease that affects the central nervous system, and none of their symptoms are exactly the same.

Some of her students experience episodes of extreme numbness in their limbs.

Chair Yoga for the National Multiple Sclerosis Society - Beaumont and Nederland Texas with Gail Pickens-Barger
Chair Yoga for the National Multiple Sclerosis Society – Beaumont and Nederland Texas with Gail Pickens-Barger

“It is as if you put a giant foam block around your leg or foot,” Pickens-Barger said.

Guided rest and relaxation during the Chair Yoga class taught by long time instructor, Gail Pickens-Barger.  #chairyogafitness
Guided rest and relaxation during the Chair Yoga class taught by long time instructor, Gail Pickens-Barger. #chairyogafitness

For some, the disease affects their balance or, in Crystal Chauvin’s case, a day-long jolt of electric pain down her cheek.

All of the students seem to share in one thing: The relief and relaxation of yoga.

“It helps me move better, helps me balance,” said Becky Dry, who has dealt with the disease for much of her life.

“The class helps us get through the day,” added Dry. “I’m ok now but tomorrow I may not.”

Approximately 400,000 Americans suffer from multiple sclerosis and every week 200 more people are diagnosed with the disease, according to the National Multiple Sclerosis Society.

There is no known cause or cure for MS. It is only fatal in extreme cases.

MS adaptive yoga is done in chairs for safety but, as Pickens-Barger points out, it can still make you sweat.

“Keep it between easy and ouch,” Pickens-Barger said during one of the stretches. “Far, far away from ouch.”

Pickens-Barger just got back from a two week long chair-yoga training in New York City, where she learned new techniques to allow her students to access the benefits of yoga without completely exhausting their bodies.

One of the biggest problems for people who suffer from MS is balance. Most of the students use a cane or a walker to get from one place to another.

The yoga techniques are designed to strengthen a person’s core muscles which help them balance whether they are sitting down or standing up.

Just as important as the benefits of the exercise and strength-building, is the sense of community and friendship the class brings to each other’s lives.

“It’s a support group also,” said Pickens-Barger.

Seated cat cow movements to limber up the spine.  #chairyogafitness with Gail Pickens-Barger
Seated cat cow movements to limber up the spine. #chairyogafitness with Gail Pickens-Barger
You Don’t Have To Get Down On The Floor To Do Yoga! Group Zoom classes available for your organization or private lessons. Call Gail 409-727-3177 (NOT A TEXT MESSAGE PHONE). To arrange for your group or private lesson.
Chair Yoga Fitness #chairyogafitness with Gail.  Reduce stress, ease back pain with chair yoga!
Chair Yoga Fitness #chairyogafitness with Gail. Reduce stress, ease back pain with chair yoga!

Gifts under $50 for Yoga & Fitness

Some of my favorite tools to use in Chair Yoga Fitness Classes and in Beginner Mat Yoga Classes. My clients are always asking where they can get the lavender, the stretch out straps and the yoga blankets!

Yearly gift of chair yoga at YogaVista.com Well worth the subscription!
Chair Yoga Dance with Gail

Better sleep with Chair Yoga

Better sleep with Chair Yoga

Better Sleep with Chair Yoga - chairyogafitness.com
Better Sleep with Chair Yoga – chairyogafitness.com

Chair Yoga on my YouTube Channel

Here’s the link to my yoga nidra I recently posted on SoundCloud.  About 15 minutes.  Enjoy!

Yoga and Sleep

National Sleep Foundation 2003 Sleep in America Study found that about half of the senior citizen population reports some type of sleep problem such as waking to go to the bathroom and not being able to get back to sleep. Sleep problems in the elderly are correlated with stress, medical conditions, excess weight or fatigue. The study indicates that many of these problems go untreated.

Additional factors that contribute to insomnia include anxiety, depression, caffeine, alcohol, pain, grief, as well as chronic conditions such as arthritis, asthma, sleep apnea or restless legs syndrome.

There is a positive correlation between sleep and fitness. About half of older adults do some kind of fitness activity during the week. Simple stretching and yoga relaxation exercises can enhance mental and physical relaxation and improve the quality of your sleep.

Yoga Poses:
There are a variety of yoga poses done before bed that may be helpful. They can be adapted to use in a chair. These include: legs up the wall or on a chair (laying on the floor with legs resting on a chair); seated forward bend (seated leaning forward on another chair or table) and sitting in easy pose, cross-legged with back against wall.

Deep Breathing:
Use deep breathing to relax and unwind from a busy day. Breathe deeply and evenly through both nostrils. Inhale for 4 counts, exhale for 4 counts for several complete breaths. Then inhale for 3 counts and exhale for 6 counts. Repeat several times. Increase the length of the exhaled breath as you are able. Only do what is comfortable for you.

Relaxation:
Use progressive relaxation in any one of its many variations to relax the body. For example, begin by focusing on your feet as you inhale and exhale slowly. Focus on relaxing your toes, ankles, heels, calves etc. with each exhale. Some people like to tighten muscles and then relax them as they exhale. As you relax, feel all the tension drain from the part of the body on which you are focusing. Continue throughout your body, relaxing each part as you exhale. In addition, you can focus on your breath as you inhale and exhale or think of a special word and repeat that word as you inhale and exhale. Visualize a favorite place and go there in your mind. Find a progression that works for you and practice it. When you have problems sleeping use the progressive relaxation you have practiced.

Take a little time to unwind before you go to sleep. Don’t keep working until you hit the mattress.

Other Suggestions include:

  • Make your bedroom comfortable and inviting. Eliminate noise and excess light.
  • Go to bed the same time every night. Create a routine that prepares you for sleep.
  • Take a warm bath.
  • Massage your feet, especially the pressure points on the inside and outside of your heels.
  • Massage your face.
  • Alcohol and tobacco taken near bedtime can interfere with deep sleep.
  • Get some exercise during the day. Include walking, weights, yoga, or Tai Chi in your plan.
  • Check with you doctor before taking medication
  • Insomnia is not life-threatening. When you can’t sleep write down the thoughts that are concerning you. Keep a list of positive thoughts and focus on them.
  • Take a 20 minute (not longer) nap during the day

Be kind to yourself. Sleep cannot be forced, it can be coaxed. The world can spin without you for a while. Enjoy this moment.

Chair Yoga Dance – Free Videos – On my YouTube Channel

Low impact, heart-healthy Chair Yoga Dance Routines – Free Videos on my YouTube Channel

Try “Sing” by Pentatonix – a new * Chair Yoga Dance * Routine by Gail

Try “Sing” by Pentatonix – a new * Chair Yoga Dance * Routine by Gail

My daughter and I listen to this CD in the car going back and forth to school every day. I thought, “Oh, I need to do this song next for the * Chair Yoga Dance * class, that I’m preparing for”.

Here’s the part where I teach you the choreography to the song.

Teaching the Dance Moves to “Sing” for * Chair Yoga Dance * Routine by Gail Pickens-Barger. Enjoy!

“Sing” by Pentatonix * Chair Yoga Dance * by Gail Pickens-Barger, here we are doing the choreography. I hope you enjoy this! I enjoyed figuring it out.

Please consider “liking” and “subscribing” to my channel. Trying to get 1000 subscribers, to open up additional features on Youtube. Thank you!
A 3 minute heart pumping, low impact workout.  Great for joint mobility, heart health, range of motion, brain coordination and fun!
A 3 minute heart pumping low impact workout. Great for joint mobility, heart health, range of motion, brain coordination and fun!