Chair Yoga

21 February 2024

You may be seeing some ads for chair yoga and wondering what it is all about. Simply, it is using a chair for balance or while seated to perform some of the movements or positions in yoga. It is beneficial for older adults, someone with mobility issues, or those in the recuperation process. It incorporates many of the basic principles, like breathing or mindfulness. Just because you are not disabled, however, doesn’t mean it won’t be a good thing for you too.

Yoga has been shown to decrease stress or anxiety, lowering blood pressure, improved energy, and greater flexibility. It is a good starting place if you are very out of shape or simply a beginner. It is not always about achieving the final or best pose or position, but about health and well being.

If you are attempting this at home, rather than a class (try community centers, local yoga studios, etc.), you may want to review some videos.

Start with a chair without wheels. Avoid standard living room furniture like overstuffed chairs. It should be at a seated height where you have both feet flat on the floor and your knees are at a 90 degree angle, or your hips are level. If a person’s weight is on the spine which happens when the feet are not on the ground, or your knees are bent and higher than your hips, you won’t be able to do the movements properly and risk injury. Be sure the chair won’t move around, which includes no rocking or swiveling, and that it is on a carpet or a yoga mat. You could also put the back of the chair against a wall for more stability.

You won’t need any extras like resistance bands. You will be using your own body weight.

Like any type of exercise, first check with your family physician or medical team. There are also the chances of injury or accident. This could be anything from a muscle pull or falling off the chair. So, use good common sense.

Depending on your physical condition and recommendation from your doctor, start slowly and increase the frequency or intensity over time.

The benefits have been shown to be:

  • Increased strength.
  • Better balance.
  • Improved mobility
  • Reduced fear of falling
  • Mental health

Here are some suggested poses or positions:

  • Upward Salute
    • Seated with back straight. Feet on the floor, parallel and hip-distance apart.
    • Inhale and raise both arms toward the ceiling. Keep shoulders relaxed and back straight.
    • Exhale while lowering arms.
  • Seated Mountain (Basically a shoulder roll)
    • Seated with feet flat on the floor and ankles and knees aligned.
    • Sit very tall elongating the back.
    • Inhale while drawing shoulders forward and up.
    • Exhale while rolling shoulders down and back.
  • Seated Cat
    • Seated with feet flat on the floor, move hands to the knees.
    • Inhale and lift the chest and move shoulders back to look upward.
    • Exhale rounding the back bringing the chin toward the body.
  • Pigeon
    • Seated with feet flat on the floor, keep back straight and bring right ankle onto the left thigh, keeping right knee and ankle aligned.
    • For an additional stretch, bend forward from the waist, keeping back straight.
    • Repeat with other side.
  • Downward Dog
    • Standing facing the chair with feet hip-distance apart, bend from the waist and place hands firmly on the seat of the chair or grip sides, keeping back straight.
    • Carefully step back until arms are fully extended but heels are still on the ground.
    • Step forward again and raise body to standing position.

There are many other poses. If you are uncomfortable doing these alone, ask someone to be with you for the few minutes they take. In that way you can have someone to be sure you are doing the exercises correctly and safely, and perhaps a little socializing to boot.

Experience the peace and strength of yoga at Grounded by Yoga in the Finger Lakes, NY. Whether you’re a beginner or advanced practitioner, our compassionate teachers create a welcoming space for all. Visit their website to view our schedule and start your yoga journey today.

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