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A Class for Every Body: TidePointe Member Eric Zurbrugg on the Benefits of Chair Yoga

Before he moved to TidePointe, a Vi Community, in August of 2021, Dr. Eric Zurbrugg thought he knew a little something about yoga.

“I thought it was something that people did in Berkeley, California, while staring at the sun and going, ‘Wow,’” he says with a chuckle. “I had a lot of misconceptions about yoga.”

But after seeing a flyer at TidePointe for a class hosted at the community called “chair yoga,” everything changed.

“I was curious about what chair yoga might be,” Dr. Zurbrugg remembers.

What is chair yoga?

As the instructor, Wendy Methvin, describes it, chair yoga offers the same asanas, or poses, as a traditional mat-based yoga class, with the added support of a chair.

“The chair is just used as a prop, just like a yoga block or a yoga strap, or even a wall would be,” Wendy says. “And the chair just makes it more accessible to all types of people.”

Residents doing chair yoga outside.

The class has become hit, with up to 30 members gathering at each class to practice in the community’s ballroom.

“I started going and very quickly became addicted,” Dr. Zurbrugg says. “I just really enjoyed it.”

Benefits abound

All forms of yoga encourage increased balance, flexibility, strength, focus, and emotional well-being.

Where chair yoga stands out from other forms of yoga is its ability to offer modifications of traditional poses. Still, as Wendy says, “You're experiencing [yoga] in the way that it's intended. You're just doing it in a little bit kinder and gentler way.”

So, what might a modified pose in a chair yoga class look like?

Sometimes, it’s as simple as using the chair as an elevated floor.

A traditional plank pose finds the body in an elevated push-up position. It’s a posture that is known for building core strength and stability. In Wendy’s class, you can access the same benefits using a chair.

A practice for all

Dr. Zurbrugg often hears members admit to having tried yoga in the past but having given up in frustration after comparing themselves to more experienced yogis.

This class is different.

With all yoga practices, including chair yoga, Wendy recommends keeping these things in mind:

  • This is not a competition. Your practice is personal!
  • Every body is different. She encourages “finding your edge,” or your personal pain-free space of growth and opportunity.
  • Don't be worried about your limitations. Instead, “look for the things that you can do,” Wendy says. “Isn’t that just a great metaphor for life?”

A community of support

While yoga can offer significant health benefits for those who practice, the first benefit of yoga, Wendy says, comes with finding your people.

The first thing that yoga does for most people, especially when they are practicing in a group, is that it brings them "a sense of community,” Wendy notes. “And it's such a joy to see.”

That joy is reflected in the community’s appreciation for Wendy and the class.

“When Wendy comes in the door, we all cheer,” Dr. Zurbrugg says. “It’s a pretty happy group, you know?”

The camaraderie continues at the end of each session: “Afterwards, when we're all done and we've all said ‘namaste,’ another big cheer goes up. And then the socialization starts, and it's nonstop for the next 10 or 15 minutes, people just gabbing away.”

After class is over, people return to their daily lives. They get ready for trivia night, art shows, mahjong, or their meeting of the Hilton Head Ethics Society. Then, a few days later, they gather again for the next class, which brings even more opportunities for new friendships, new growth, and new possibilities for the future.

See how else TidePointe members are filling their days.