A Creative Way to engage your students who have Alzheimer’s and Dementia – A Field Report from a Fellow Yoga Teacher

Recently I was offered the chance to teach Chair Yoga to a group of seniors. There would be 18 to 25 clients in each session once a week for an hour.  The facility is a residential home to individuals that deal with Alzheimer’s and Dementia. Working towards being certified for Yoga Vista’s Chair Yoga, and working for the last 3 years teaching Yoga/meditation in the recovery field I felt this would be a nice fit and accepted the position.

I began teaching awhile ago and I wanted to tell you about my experience.

Most of the clients are not only mentally challenged at times but physically as well. This means that we do the Yoga in chairs that have arms to give stability as it also restricts our ability to move. We are very cautious about any standing even with the chairs to hold onto as they also have wheels! So it has been a challenge incorporating & adapting what I’ve learned to the ability of the clients. Some clients may fall asleep, have limited focus, some participate and others may simply sit.

A half hour into my third session with this group I had a moment of panic as I could not think of what to do next. I had the feeling I was losing the class, a real disconnect with the clients and what I was trying to get them to participate in.

I decided to try a Chair Yoga Dance from Sherry’s training. Went with one I was pretty sure they would recognize and possibly know the words. “Somewhere Over The Rainbow “ by the Hawaiian singer Israel or “Is”. So I went over what we were going to do, the movements, the song and the repetitions.

I so wish I had had the foresight to get someone to video tape what happened next.


Somewhere Over the Rainbow Chair Yoga Dance with Sherry Zak Morris

This dance is pretty easy but very well liked for its playfulness and softness.  Notice the ladies in the front sharing their energy with each other!  Sweetness! This song was sung by Izzy (Israel Kamakawiwoʻole) and it is so beautiful! Hope you enjoy all the Chair Yoga Dances! They are fun, motivating and you can get your whole body moving and groovin’!

Turning on the music and beginning the gentle swaying, giving away our energy and then pulling it back in, before the vocals started. I began to sense a shift in energy. Looking around you could absolutely see the switch flipping on!!! As clients start to recognize the song, pay attention to my movements began to fully participate in the chair dance!

However what made my heart expand was the moment I noticed that everyone was participating and most of them were singing…

Every class since then I have introduced them to another dance from Sherry’s library of Chair Yoga Dances The clients are so receptive to these chair dances. They remember what I taught them last week, are able to follow beautifully. They participate not only physically, but I believe with their hearts as well when they also sing!!! I love teaching the Chair Yoga but incorporating the Chair Yoga Dances has taken this group to another level. I don’t believe we could of reached this level of joyful participation so quickly with such a positive outcome without the Chair Yoga dances, choice of music and Sherry’s wonderful choreography. The dances are simple, nice repetitions not too long or complicated and easy to sing along. I can actually see the shift in the clients. It is as if someone has flipped a switch turning on a light in their eyes. A sense of joy that is all connected to your Chair Yoga movements and takes it to a new level when I add the Chair Yoga Dances.

Thank you from my heart Sherry❣️ The Chair Yoga Dances are a game changer. They open a real joy for Yoga in both my challenged clients and the clients at the studio. A sense of accomplishment when they learn a dance. A sense of community that they can do this together that they are not alone and they can support each other. It is really a beautiful thing. I am so grateful that this is offered in your training. In awe of the creativity you have poured into your videos. So appreciative of the knowledge in keeping true to the practice of Yoga in a chair. As my friend Mike said, when he began looking at your videos on YouTube, “That Sherry Zak Morris person is a rock star” …tru dat❤️🙏🏼🧘🏼‍♀️

Thank you for all you do, all you give so freely I am very grateful and blessed.
🧘🏼‍♀️🙏🏼❤️ Ava

Yoga Vista Online Chair Yoga DANCE Teacher Training Program

This Program was created to help you put that extra sugar, spice and joy into your Chair and Gentle Yoga Classes. Learn the hows, whys and other important details about incorporating Chair Yoga Dances into your Yoga classes. Join us on an experiential adventure through 8 different Dances!

The Online Chair Yoga Dance Teacher Training Program is purposefully designed to be fun, creative and enjoyable! Even if you don’t think you will ever include a Dance in your Yoga class… you will have the best time learning something new and stepping out of your comfort zone. Having Chair Yoga Dance training is certain to set you apart from other teachers–all while bringing smiles and lightness to your students.

Each of the 8 Program Chair Yoga Dances are intended to be unique experiences which act as learning tutorials to build upon the concepts of teaching this creative movement modality. I promise you will look forward to every Dance Module with Joy and Eagerness!