The Rebound Indiana: 'Chair Yoga' helps manage stress and anxiety with simple movements

Posted at 6:00 AM, May 08, 2020
and last updated 2020-05-08 08:01:27-04

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INDIANAPOLIS — Many Hoosiers are spending more time in front of computers and sitting at home.

An Indianapolis physical therapist gives some simple tips for a few things people can do to benefit the mind and body from home.

Social distancing has created an environment where many of us are spending countless hours in a chair. Although work is getting done, it could be taking a toll on the body and the mind.

Fred Loeffler is a physical therapist at the Indiana Hemophilia and Thrombosis Center. He is used to working with patents feeling pain.

His team realized, the tools they use with their patients could benefit all Hoosiers right now. It is called "chair yoga."

"Now that we are all sitting at the computers and most of us are at our laptops, which is a shorter keyboard, so we are really forward shouldered, we have our head forward, and we have a rounded back and all those muscles in the front in your peck area get tight and your head and neck muscles get tight," Loeffler said.

With the help of a Kimber Blackwell, a Physician Assistant at IHTC, Loeffler created an online chair yoga tutorial for anyone who is looking for mind and body relief while working from home or to manage stress in these difficult times.

Adapting yoga moves to a chair gives everyone a chance to enjoy the benefits, regardless of skill level.

"The chair yoga is about as easy as it gets and you can progress from there," Loeffler said. "With the chair poses you are just doing a simple mountain pose or extension pose where you are lifting up your head and rolling your shoulders back and taking some deep breaths will give your back, the muscles in your back of your neck and upper back a chance to relax and you can get some stretching in."

These simple movements go beyond stretching the body, Loeffler says deep breathing is one of the most important things someone can do to help with stress and anxiety.

"When we are stressed or when we are in these poor postures we are breathing shallow, we are not really getting full breath, we are not getting full oxygenation of blood and it just makes us foggy and it just makes us anxious," Loeffler said. "So those six deep breaths with your poses and extending your spine and opening things up really do help get oxygenated blood in."

Loeffler says to take a break from working, stretching your arms, and taking a deep breath in, can pay off in the long run.

"It really does help," Loeffler said. "It lowers blood pressure, it lowers anxiety, it lowers stress, it relieves tension, and it gets more oxygenated blood into you. It's efficient if you are a patient dealing with pain or an employee stuck at home working on a computer all day."

Extra time at home can be used to start developing habits that will help Hoosiers successfully rebound into a new normal.

"If you can begin a new chair yoga program and if you can begin incorporating some movement into you, that would be fantastic to have carry over into your everyday life when you return back to a normal work environment or a normal type of setting," says Loeffler.

View the Chair Yoga tutorial with the Indiana Hemophilia and Thrombosis Center here.