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Tuesday, September 29, 2020

Accessible Yoga for Physical Disabilities Classes on Hold until 2021

Hello friends in the Accessible & Abilities Yoga community.

Many of you expressed interest in joining our online chair yoga classes (originally on Tuesday/Thursday, changed to Monday/Friday). However, as with many things during this unusual time in our society, events and classes start and sometimes attendance dwindles; people get “Zoom fatigue,” their lives fill up with a myriad of other activities, jobs come back online, or sadly sometimes health issues take precedence.

I have offered these classes as a community service and would like to continue to do so, but I think we need a break from “another online class” for now. Many thanks to those that tested the waters; please know that I intend to start the class again in the new year. Classes will STILL be free (donations always accepted but NEVER required), but we will pre-register folks for 4 (maybe 6) weeks at a time, have just ONE class per week, for about an hour. Still accessible, still adaptive, and when there are more regular students I can more readily tailor the classes to your needs!

If you have a vested interest in the classes, please respond to this email and I will keep you on the list for January. Please know you are welcome to join my free Daily Chair Yoga classes that occur Monday through Friday at 11AM PST that are gentle (they are Silver Sneakers sanctioned) with a fitness as well as mind/body approach. Just email me and I”ll send you the link.

Just so you know, The Abilities Expo has another virtual event November 20-22 ( sign up for free), and I will be showcasing Accessible Chair yoga as an event there again. 

Wishing you well this Autumn, in the Jewish New Year, and well into 2021 friends. 

Saturday, September 26, 2020

Day 17 of 22: 22-Second Chaturanga/Pushup Hold

Some days, you need to find stillness. So, today's challenge is about holding that pushup in lowered position for the duration (22 seconds). 

Many fitness classes will have "plank hold" challenges, ranging from 30 seconds to start, working up to 60 seconds, and even up to two minutes during the course of the class (personal training might include much longer holds). During my gentle yoga classes, the goal is help students set themselves up for success. So before the challenge I offered the option of holding in a fully extended plank (less intense) or joining me in the lowered (bent arm) version. This challenge can also be taken at less steep (or more) angle, or even weightless. 

I set the timer for 30 seconds, set up for the pose, and at 22 seconds, began. A nice long slow inhale and exhale breath cycle carried me through, and hopefully shows that a pushup challenge doesn't have to be physically complicated to fit the bill.

To donate to my challenge, click here:

To start your own challenge, click here:

Day 16 of 22: Standard Style Pushups

After a six day break, I was hard pressed for a creative pushup so I went back to the basics: just a regular ol' pushup, but on a gentle incline. Since practicing yoga I've been doing my pushups "chaturanga style," meaning the elbows bend back towards the ribcage and I only descend to a 90 degree bend. So this particular change created a challenge for me even though many might say it was "just" a basic pushup. 

If anything going back to basics gave me an opportunity to refine technique even more. The position of the upper back and shoulders, the engagement of hte legs, core, and glutes all play into the support required for a strong, consistent descent and lift back out of a pushup. I don't super strong pectoral muscles so I'm counting on my whole body to support me through this series!

Two sets of eleven gets us to our goal of 22 for day 16!

To donate to my challenge, click here:

To start your own challenge, click here:

Wednesday, September 16, 2020

Day 15 of 22: Plank to Pike/Down Dog

Wednesday is core focus day in Gentle Yoga, and a good plank-to-downward-facing-dog-at-a-chair can help tune in to engaging the core in a supportive role for the back. It's also our way of joining the #22pushup challenge today. This particular exercise in a standard mat yoga class is a serious "core burn" and shoulder strengthener. This adaptation makes it accessible and enjoyable for those that can do some weight bearing on the arms (hands or forearms) in a standing position.

As I always say, yoga is for every body, but not every pose is for every one. So, adapt as needed. I took the forearm variation to intensify the core work, but also it gives my hands (that struggle with some arthritis/overuse issues) a much needed rest). 

This can absolutely be modified to include a step forward for a more upright plank and a step back for the down dog to make it even more gentle for the back and reduce any strain on the spine/sacrum.

An adaptation from a seated position would be to place the hands on the back of another chair or a table and slide the hands forward for the fold, and up for the plank. All these versions will activate not only the core but the latissimus dorsi (the muscles that bring the arms close to the body) and the core. 

Once set of eleven with a few pausing breaths in down dog then a final set of eleven complete our 15th day of the challenge!

To donate to my challenge, click here:

To start your own challenge, click here:

Day 14 of 22: Tricep Push-ups

 Our focus in class this week is on the heart chakra, so instead of a forward facing push-up I thought I might try a "heart opening" style. Like traditional chaturanga this one is triceps intensive, but has the shoulders in a rear extension, which can be intense on the anterior deltoid and the pectorals if they are tight. It's also a bit of a internal shoulder rotation. so those with any impingement or pain when holding the arms down at the side and rotation the thumbs inward might want to do this either non-weight bearing or try an overhead press instead.

I used a chair for a horizontal "grip" but a wall could suffice as well. A lower support surface that takes the body lower will of course create more intensity. As this is gentle adaptive yoga, we keep it simple: gentle bend in knees, more upright posture, hands pretty close to the body, and the "dips" are not extreme.

Two sets of eleven for the challenge, with forward bends to stretch out the lats, teres major, triceps, and serratus among other muscles. Enjoy!

To donate to my challenge, click here:

To start your own challenge, click here:

Monday, September 14, 2020

Day 12 of 22: Mountain Climbers + Push-up

Day 12 combined two different previous challenges into one: we do a mountain climber knee lift across the body (elbow-to-knee even though I say knee to chair erroneously in the video), and follow that with a chaturanga (half-pushup). 

To warm up the hips with lunges and standing one leg lifts. I didn't want to tire us out, but I wanted to make sure we had our hip flexors ready to tackle the challenge without overdoing it. Two sets of eleven make it even more accessible. Participation options as always include staying vertical, lifting the leg to the toe instead of full knee up, skipping the push-up, or any variation that works for your body in the spirit of the challenge. I chose to exhale when I lifted my knee and when I did the half push-up, which meant I was taking shorter length breaths for this sequence as opposed to the long inhales and exhales we usually do in our yoga classes. But as this particular flow was more vigorous, it seems appropriate. 

Alignment with the arms, shoulders, hips, and knees as always is important, to build on the lessons of previous days. Thanks for watching!

 To donate to my challenge, click here:

To start your own challenge, click here:

Day 13 of 22: Push-ups with Scapular Extensions

Another day, another blended push-up challenge. This time we take our standard chair push-up and add that shoulder/scapula protraction that we did on challenge day seven, which turns this into a really great upper body strengthener, and yet is still gentle enough for everyone to try. The least intense way would be non-weight bearing at all, taking the arms through the range of motion, then doming the upper back (like in Cat Pose but not tucking the pelvis) to achieve activation in the serraturs anterior. 

Practicing this on an incline does activate the arm muscles and chest muscles quite a bit more, and calls the core and legs more into action. Of course, the most intense version would be horizontal on the ground (or perhaps upside down ha ha), but that's out of the scope of this class.

Hopefully you can see the extension of the upper back when I press up from the push-up; it's really a nice stretch for those muscles under the shoulder blades and your feel pretty strong in the trapezius and other supporting muscles. Then when you lower back into the push-up, you feel those muscles engage again. Two sets of eleven gets us to the end of challenge day 13! Thanks for joining!

To donate to my challenge, click here:

To start your own challenge, click here:

Day 10 of 22: One Armed Push-ups

If you clicked on this link thinking you were going to see some Rocky-esque power workout, you might be slightly disappointed. These one-armers are far from the latissimus dorsi and forearm bulgers that you get in a prize-fight training regimen.

Today's challenge was a side-plank inspired "push-up" dialed back to be appropriate for gentle yoga. By putting weight on your shoulders at the side angle however, you work the infraspinatus and teres minor (posterior shoulder) muscles, which externally rotate the upper arm bones, and draw the heads of the shoulders away from the chest. These muscles are often underutilized and you may find these to be far more vigorous than at first glance!

We aren't just holding the side plank like one might do in a mat yoga class, we are creating a change in muscular control by bending at the elbow, so it's even more important that we don't overestimate the incline of the body that is appropriate. 

You can have your hand on the chair (a lower position and more stable) or against a wall; if at the wall, it is best to have it at shoulder height. For best results I'd say the elbow doesn't bend more than halfway, and it's a slow and deliberate descent and press back to straight arm. 

The glenoid (socket) is shallow, and with the humerus (upper arm bone) at this sideways position, the joint is vulnerable and needs a lot of muscular and connective tissue support. We are doing eleven repetitions to build strength, so go slowly, be patient, and take breaks. 


To donate to my challenge, click here:

To start your own challenge, click here:

Day 11 of 22: Plank Shoulder Taps

From the deltoid/shoulder challenge of day 10, we switch to the chest/core/forearm firmer of day 11! Today's challenge is holding a plank through 22 cross-body shoulder taps. The key is stabilizing the legs and the core and trying to keep the body still while lifting one hand off the "floor" to tap the opposite shoulder. As the body weight shifts, different muscles activate through stimulation of proprioception (the body figuring out it's position in space) and the vestibulation system (balance). 

A safety/gentle yoga concern as always is keeping the wrists protected by engaging the hand muscles. Lessen the intensity on the hands/arms by decreasing the incline. Twenty-two in sequence, with a nice arms stretch afterwards finish up day 11 for us!

To donate to my challenge, click here:

To start your own challenge, click here:

Day 8 of 22: Tree Pose Push-ups

Thursdays in class I choose to focus on the lower body, which can include everything from the low back to the hips, lower abs, glutes, quads, hamstrings, calves, and down to the feet. Tree pose can be challenging for balance in and of itself, but by laying it with the pushup challenge, we create leg strengthener, on top of the upper body focus of the pushup.

Of course, this being adaptive yoga, tree pose can be done with both feet on the ground (no need to elevate the "branch" leg). Imagine the strength and balance required to accomplish a full chaturanga with the legs in tree pose in a horizontal position! My body wouldn't take to that style of pose, so this variation, which I found to be quite challenging in and of itself, to be exciting to try. 

Surprisingly, it wasn't my arms, or even my lifted leg, that fatigued, but my standing calf. Bearing that in mind, a lesser incline might allow you to keep the standing foot more on the ground than on the balls of the feet. As always, this is a practice, and experimenting and being present with how your body responds helps progress it.

Eleven Tree Pose Push-ups on one leg, then a stretch, and eleven on the other. Enjoy.

 To donate to my challenge, click here:

To start your own challenge, click here:

Day 9 of 22: Mountain Climbers

We've been exploring variations of "push-ups" with our Gentle Yoga adaptations for the #activeheroes #22pushupchallenge, and today we tackled something else in plank territory with a core focus: Mountain Climbers. Traditionally in a fitness class you might do this exercise tucking the knees up under the body rapidly to raise the heartrate, but today we are focusing on the lift of the leg, across the body (if possible for your body) for some oblique abdominal work, while maintaining stability through the legs and chest with support in the arms. 

An even gentler version could include bending a knee instead of lift it at all; try a variation that suits you! I prefer to do the exhale on the knee lift, and the inhale as the body opens and lengthens. We did all 22 reps in a row today.

Sorry if the video and audio are slightly off; I tried to correct in the editing software but wasn't able to get it exact as the resolution of the video isn't that high. 

 To donate to my challenge, click here:

To start your own challenge, click here:

Day 7 of 22: "Shoulder" Pushups (Scapular Retractions/Protractions)

Today's challenge took place in the park as I had to run an errand and was unable to get back to my PC in time to host class. So with the use of a new phone, the Zoom app, and cell service I was able to conduct class and record it to the cloud to get today's challenge published.

This gentle pushup variation is for the shoulders and rotator cuff, and for helping with the "winging" of the scapula (shoulder blade). It strengthens the muscles that hold the shoulder blade on the rib cage, as well as it's mobility there. Be careful to not lock out the elbows (use the muscles to keep them straight rather than rigid). Also, there isn't so much of a flexing of the spine like a cat/cow motion as there is a movement of the chest forward and back between the arm bones.

If the movement seems awkward, practice without the hands on a surface first, as if you are pushing a wall away. Notice if there is any pain or discomfort in the range of motion. Then try vertical, and work up to an incline, or even horizontal. 

It's also important to not crane the head forward nor drop the chin; the head should stay in line with the rest of the neck and spine to avoid creating uneven weight in the cervical spine. 

To donate to my challenge, click here:

To start your own challenge, click here:

Tuesday, September 1, 2020

Day 6 of 22: Overhead Press Pushups (non--weight-bearing)

Today's challenge is another "weightless" variation that focuses on tricep flexion and extension, shoulder extension, and range of motion. Often you'll see this move done in a fitness class with weights in one or both hands (in Silver Sneakers, weight would only be in one hand). The extra effort comes from raising the arm to a straight position against the force of gravity vertically.

Technically, of course, this isn't a pushup, but we are being creative in the vein of adaptive/accessible yoga, and still keeping the spirit of the upper body work, reinforcing good posture, and of course, the heart intention of giving our time for the cause of raising awareness and money for Veterans' support.

If this particular option doesn't work for you with arms overhead, the Day 5 version is a good substitute. Otherwise, the arms go overhead, wrists gentle flexed, The elbows will bend to 90 degrees keeping the elbows over the shoulders (or more gentle, at a 30 degree forward incline from the shoulders), then restraighten as if pushing the body back into an elevated position. 

I made a joke during class that this was like a handstand pushup, so use your imagination to help you keep good form, good posture, and grounding for alignment. 

Because the arms are overhead and blood flow gets restricted, I broke this one into two sets of 11. Enjoy!

To donate to my challenge, click here:

To start your own challenge, click here:

Day 5 of 22: Weightless Accessible Push-ups

 Today's challenge is the gentlest one yet, with zero weight-bearing, and can be done sitting, standing, or even lying down on the back. The one precaution would be to ensure not to hyperextend the wrists "back'" without a surface on which to grip, the extension (backwards flexion to 90 degrees) could create uncomfortable force on the joint, and there is no need. The focus is on the engagement of the triceps, biceps, upper back, chest, neck, and core. 

Sitting or standing, with good upright postures, extend the arms wrists to elbow height. On the exhale, draw the elbow back toward the ribs, keeping them close, as if , as in previous challenges, doing a "chaturanga push-up." Whether standing or sitting, engage the abdominal muscles to pull back and support the torso, and even the inner thigh muscles up to the pelvic floor (without actually moving the legs. Press the feet into the floor to stay grounded.

Re-extend the arms, and repeat. You either inhale with the extension and exhale with the elbow bending, or take extra time and exhale on both the arms straightening with effort as well as the flexion as if you were pushing body away from a supporting surface. The point is to engage the muscles by wrapping them to the bones but not stress the joints with weight bearing or over tightening, so be aware of the effort you are expensing. Allow the movement to flow.

Two sets of 11, or one full set of 22, and this challenge is complete! 

To donate to my challenge, click here:

To start your own challenge, click here: