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Busting the Yoga Stereotypes

Jennifer VanBenschoten

I love following yoga teachers on Instagram and FB, but honestly...I get sick of seeing lots of skinny white girls in bikinis doing handstands and arm balances. Right? 

Back in October, I wrecked my low back. I have no idea how it actually happened, except that I was ignoring some burning sensations in my back all summer. Then one morning when I was getting ready to take my son to school, I sneezed. Next thing I remember was being on the couch, but I don't actually remember how I got there. I had to call my husband to come home and drive our son to school, and then he had to drive me to get a massage to see if we could make the muscle spasms stop.

A couple of days later, I went for another massage, but instead of improving, my back pain worsened to the point where I couldn't get out of bed and couldn't walk without help - and without excruciating pain.

Sitting on the floor was impossible. So was driving, sitting up without support, and standing unassisted. The nerve pain in my left leg was sometimes unbearable, and nothing I did made it any better. By Halloween, I was able to walk around town and go trick-or-treating with my son...but I was walking with a limp, and I literally dragged that left leg behind me for a good 2 miles.

A couple of weeks later, I decided that I needed to get back on my yoga mat, but damn. I couldn't sit on the floor, and doing any kind of side stretches or forward folds sent that nerve pain shooting down my leg right into my foot. I knew that I needed lots of support for my body, so I took out my yoga blankets, bolsters, blocks, and a chair.

Chair yoga is one of my favorite practices - even when I'm not injured. I love the practice of giving my body plenty of support so I can meet it where it is, and not push it into strain or injury.

So the other morning when I was at the yoga studio and had some time to kill, I thought I would mess around with the timer on my cell phone camera and show you just how dynamic a chair yoga practice can be! 

I will tell you that the first few weeks of yoga practice after my injury hurt like hell. It was a constant practice of balancing sensation with pain, remembering not to move too deeply into the poses but knowing that the gentle stretching would help me recover.

Thankfully, I am pain-free today, thanks to chair yoga and a handful of chiropractic visits. 

But dammit...don't ever let anyone tell you that you can't practice yoga because of your body shape, or your weight, or your injuries or your mobility or ANYTHING. Yoga is accessible to every single person who wants to practice, regardless of what's happening in their physical body.

If you're interested in learning more about chair yoga, contact me. I've got training both in chair yoga and Curvy Yoga to help you meet your body where it is!


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