Chair yoga is a low-intensity exercise in which yoga postures are performed whilst sitting on a chair. As practitioners can remain seated, chair yoga is ideal for elderly yogis or those with physical limitations. However, the practice is great for any type of yogi looking for a gentle work out. To get started, all you need are some comfortable yoga clothes and a chair. In this article, we explore chair yoga in more detail.
Just like any form of yoga, chair yoga strengthens the body, increases flexibility, and focusses the mind. One of the best things about the practice is that it is suitable for yogis of all sorts. Additionally, the style is simple to practice and can be used anywhere. If you’re sitting at a desk for a long period of time, it’s not unusual to become a little stiff. With this in mind, chair yoga is great to practice at work to prevent backaches and headaches.
Most standard yoga poses can be adapted and used with a chair. Some of the most popular poses are Cat-Cow, Forward Bend, and Seated Spinal Twist. The only difference between these and the standard poses is the use of the chair. Although yogis remain seated for most of the chair yoga poses, some of them require yogis to stand. With the standing postures, practitioners can use the chair to aid their balance and movement throughout the pose. Below, we discuss how to practice some of the chair yoga poses.
To practice Chair Cat-Cow, sit on a chair and lengthen your spine. Keeping both feet on the floor, rest your hands on your knees and take a deep breath in. As you inhale, arch your back and draw your shoulders down and back. You are in Cow position. After a few seconds, exhale and round your spine. Draw your chin into your chest and let your head hang forward. You are in Cat Position. Alternate between the two positions for a few minutes whilst breathing deeply.
To practice Chair Raised Hands, find a chair and sit with your back straight. Take a deep breath in and raise your arms towards the ceiling. Roll your shoulders down and back as you reach your fingertips toward the ceiling. You are in Chair Raised Hands. Hold the posture for around 30 seconds whilst keeping your bottom firmly on the chair.
To practice Chair Forward Bend, sit on your chair and take a deep breath in. As you exhale, hinge at the waist and lower your upper body toward the floor. If you can, allow your hands to rest on the floor and hang your head in-between your knees. You are in Chair Forward Bend. As you inhale, bring your upper body back up and raise your hands above your head. Alternate between these two positions for around 30 seconds, remembering to breathe deeply.
To practice Chair Extended Side Stretch, sit on your chair with your back straight. As you exhale, lower your torso and rest your left hand on the floor on the outside of your left foot. As you inhale, twist your torso and raise your right arm up toward the ceiling. You are in Chair Extended Side Stretch. Hold the pose for 30 seconds before bringing the right arm down. When you’re ready, repeat the stretch on the opposite side and hold for another 30 seconds. If you can’t easily touch the ground, practice the pose using a yoga block for support.
To practice Chair Pigeon, sit in your chair with your spine lengthened. Bend your right knee and place your right ankle across your left thigh. Keep your knee aligned with your ankle as much as you can. You are in Chair Pigeon. Hold the pose for around 20 seconds before repeating on the opposite side. To deepen the stretch, bend forward whilst practicing the posture.
To perform Eagle Pose, stay seated with your back straight. Place your right thigh over your left thigh and wrap your right foot around your left ankle. Next, cross your left arm over your right arm and bend your elbows before placing your palms together. Finally, drop your shoulders away from your ears and raise your elbows. You are in Eagle Pose. Hold the posture for around 30 seconds before repeating on the other side.
To practice Spinal Twist, sit sideways on your chair with your spine straight. Twist your upper body to the left and hold onto the back of the chair. With each inhale, lengthen your spine to increase the stretch. You are in Spinal Twist. Hold the position for around 30 seconds before turning around and repeating on the opposite side.
To practice Chair Savasana, sit on your chair with your back straight. Rest your hands in your lap and close your eyes. You are in Chair Savasana. Keep your eyes closed for as long as you like, taking time to relax and reflect on the session. Ending your practice with Chair Savasana will allow the body to absorb the benefits of the previous postures.
Whether you find regular asanas a little tricky or you’re looking for a style to practice whilst at work, Chair Yoga is great for people of all sorts. With supervision, Chair Yoga is even suitable for children. If your little one is interested in using Chair Yoga, pick up a kids yoga t-shirt and some ballet leggings before getting started.