New Chair Yoga Program Introduced to Dialysis Community at Denver-Area Wellness Day Events

Acclaimed Yoga Instructor and Author Lakshmi Voelker Demonstrates New Exercise Program for Dialysis Patients

WALTHAM, Mass. – Aug. 28, 2014 – With yoga becoming an increasingly popular exercise and fitness activity across the United States, Fresenius Medical Care North America (FMCNA), the nation’s leading network of dialysis facilities, has asked Lakshmi Voelker, a noted author, lecturer and yoga instructor, to create a “chair yoga” program specifically for dialysis patients.

Patients with kidney failure who depend on dialysis typically have to remain seated for three to five hours at a time, three times a week, while their blood is being filtered during dialysis treatment. Chair yoga, which is done while seated or standing next to a chair, is ideally-suited for dialysis patients. The stretching exercises can be done by people with a wide range of fitness levels and medical conditions, while the breathing techniques work well for calming and stress reduction.

FMCNA reached out to Voelker as part of its ongoing Healthy Lifestyles initiative, which encourages patients with chronic kidney disease to lead healthier and better lives on dialysis by eating nutritious, kidney-friendly foods and staying physically active.

Voelker has been educating people for years about the therapeutic benefits of yoga which, according to many medical experts, can include lower blood pressure and stress, better heart function, and improved strength, circulation, and flexibility. But rather than simply passing along the traditional yoga techniques that she learned from her own teachers, she has spent the past three decades developing and teaching a form of seated yoga that can be done by almost anyone.

She got the idea for chair yoga in 1982, when arthritis prevented one of her students from getting down on the floor to practice. “There ought to be an easier way,” she thought, for the elderly and people with physical limitations to participate in yoga and enjoy its many health benefits. So in 1999, after several years of adaptation and trials with her own students, Voelker introduced chair yoga to a wider audience through an acclaimed series of instructional audio and video recordings. Since then, she has continued to spread her “Get Fit Where You Sit!®” message by training and certifying more than 1,100 chair yoga instructors, while helping to introduce the increasingly popular program to senior centers, nursing homes, physical rehabilitation units, hospitals including the Mayo Clinic, and even the New York City Department of Education.

“Chair yoga exercises have been successfully adapted for office workers seated at their desks and for people on airline flights,” says Voelker. “So I’m confident they can be just as effective and beneficial for dialysis patients.”

“Chair yoga’s unique regimen of stretching and breathing exercises lends itself well to dialysis patients’ needs,” says Jill Hall, RN and vice president of quality management at FMCNA, “It should also be a great way to inspire patients at all fitness levels to be more active.”

To introduce FMCNA staff and patients to chair yoga, Voelker will be participating in a pair of Wellness Day programs on Monday, Sept. 8, at Fresenius Medical Care East Denver, located at 962 Potomac Circle in Aurora, and at Fresenius Medical Care Stapleton, located at 7606 E. 36th Ave., Building 701, in Denver. She will be demonstrating specific exercises suitable for dialysis patients, and discussing how they can get the most benefit from chair yoga.

For more information about the chair yoga program, as well as fitness tips, videos and other information about staying active and maintaining a healthy diet on dialysis, visit FMCNA’s Healthy Lifestyles website.

Members of the media are welcome to attend the two Wellness Day programs. To arrange interviews or photos with Lakshmi Voelker and clinic staff or patients at the events, please contact Lauren Mungo, at, or 1-630-965-4921.

About Fresenius Medical Care North America

Through its leading network of more than 2,150 dialysis facilities in North America and vascular access centers, laboratory, pharmacy and affiliated hospitals and nephrology practices, Fresenius Medical Care provides renal services to hundreds of thousands of people throughout the United States, Mexico and Canada. It is also the continent’s top producer of dialysis equipment, dialyzers and related disposable products and a major supplier of renal pharmaceuticals.

About Lakshmi Voelker Chair Yoga™

Lakshmi Voelker Chair Yoga™ is based on 5,000-year-old yoga postures called “asanas.” Lakshmi Voelker has modified these ancient stretching and breathing exercises for use on a chair, making them accessible to everyone. Realizing that people have different levels of fitness and flexibility, her techniques are designed to be adaptable for each individual’s personal needs. A member of the International Association of Yoga Therapists, Voelker, has studied and taught yoga for more than four decades. She also worked in a hospital for 12 years and has long been interested in integrating the practice of yoga with modern health concepts. For more information, visit