Yoga is very popular these days and the best part of yoga is that everyone can do these yoga poses irrespective of their age. People with health issues can also do yoga that is suitable for their body. Chair yoga is a type of asana that are modified to make it possible at the seat level on a chair.
Chair yoga makes it accessible to people who find it difficult to stand due to health issues or lack mobility to move easily from the standing position to a seated position. Chair yoga poses are most suited for seniors with physical limitations and people who are looking to start slowly. In chair yoga the basic body movements of an individual are retained. Sitting on a yoga chair, students can do different types of chair yoga poses like hip stretches, twists, forward bends and mild backbends. You can even do these poses on your office chair.
Chair yoga poses not only helps stretching; students can also enjoy several other health benefits that are associated with yoga. They include better breathing, good muscle tone, reduction in stress, good and sound sleep and overall wellbeing.
Who can do Chair Yoga?
Chair yoga is generally performed at yoga classes catering to senior citizens. Senior citizens due to the age factor may find it difficult to do certain regular yoga poses, but with the modified chair yoga poses they can enjoy the health benefits of yoga without much strain on their body. Not only seniors, obese people and people with neurological problems are also good candidates of chair yoga. Even working professionals can also try them out during their working hours as a good method for stretching their tired bodies.
What is in a chair?
Chair yoga is more about adaptability and hence there is no need to hunt for a particular chair for yoga. But, that doesn’t mean you can do chair yoga on a chair with wheels since they are unstable and there is a risk of an injury. Any other stable chair is enough to do chair yoga poses every day.
Chair Cat-Cow Stretch
In this chair yoga, you need to sit on a chair with your spine held straight and both the feet on the floor. Hold your hands on your knees or on top of your thighs. While inhaling bend your spine and roll your shoulders down and back, bringing your shoulder blades onto your back. This is the cow position. While exhaling, round your spine and drop your chin onto your chest allowing the shoulder and head to fall forward. This is a successful cat position. Switch to cow position while inhaling and to cat position while exhaling for at least five breaths.
Chair Raised Hands Pose-Urdhva Hastasana
The chair raised hands pose helps in opening, activate and balance the heart chakra. It helps strengthen the muscles of the arms, shoulders, biceps and triceps. Inhale and simultaneously raise your arms towards the ceiling. Allow your shoulder blades to slide down the back as you raise your hands up. Sit straight on your chair seat and try raising your hands from there.
Chair Forward Bend-Uttanasana
This is a simple yoga pose, which is opposite to sitting upright on the chair. This pose is an excellent hip opener. The forward bend reduces the tightness of your hips that is caused to the prolonged sitting on the chair with the legs held straight in front of you. It helps maintain mobility in your hip joints. While exhaling bend forward over the legs and allow the hands to rest on the floor if you are able to reach it. Let the head to hand heavy. On inhalation, raise the arms back up over the head. Now, repeat these poses by switching from the raised arm position to the forward fold pose several times, moving with the breath.
Chair Extended Side Angle-Utthita Parsvakonasana
Extended side angle yoga is a primary standing pose that develops the thighs and helps in hip opening, lateral extension and spinal twisting. This chair yoga pose aims to create space at the chest and the pelvis encouraging improved breathing and better circulation at the abdominal and the pelvic area aiding in improved digestion and elimination. To do this chair yoga, after the final forward bend, stay folded. Bring the left fingertips to the floor on the outside of your left feet. Open your chest as you turn to the right while inhaling bringing your right arm and looking up at the ceiling. This is the chair version of the extended side angle pose. Hold in this position for several breaths. Slowly bring the right arm down while exhaling. If you cannot bring your left hand easily on the floor, then place a block under it or bring it to your left knee instead and twist from this position. Do the same with the right arm down and the left arm up.
Chair Pigeon-Eka Pada Rajakapotasana
The chair pigeon pose is slightly difficult to do, but if you are experienced with other asanas, then you may find the chair pigeon pose easy to do. With regular practice you can get hold of this pose very easily. This is one of the favorite poses to open up the hips. The chair pigeon pose can be helpful in finding relief from sciatic and back pain. It also helps release some stress, fear, anxiety and trauma. Start with the sitting position. Get your right ankle to rest on your left thigh, keeping the knee in line with your ankle as much as possible. Hold in this position for three to five breaths. You can even forward bend to intensify the stretch if you like. Repeat the same for the left leg too.
Eagle pose is a challenging balance pose that is quite common in most yoga classes. The chair eagle pose opens up the joints in the arms and the shoulders. In the chair eagle pose you cross your right thigh over your left thigh to achieve the eagle pose. Try to wrap the right foot all the way around the left calf. Cross your left arm over the right one at the elbow. Bend the elbows and bring your palms to touch. Lift the elbows while dropping the shoulders away from the ears. Hold on to this for 4 breaths and repeat on the other side. Garudasana gives a nice stretch to the arms and shoulder muscles. Just a minute of chair eagle pose will give you a good break and relax your body especially the stiff shoulders from the hectic work.
Chair Spinal Twist-Ardha Matsayendrasana
This yoga pose is named after an ancient yoga teacher Matsyendra. This is a half spinal twist pose and is one of the basic yoga asanas that provide lateral stretch to the spine and vertebrae and works around the hips and muscles. It prevents any irritation and soreness in the joints. The smooth flow of lubricants in the joints energizes your body. The spinal twist is one of the easiest yoga poses that has been included in the beginner’s yoga routine. Begin with sitting sideways on the chair and facing to the left. Twist your lower body to the left holding onto the chair for a spinal twist. Straighten your spine while inhaling and twist on each exhale for five breaths. Move your legs around to the right side of the chair and repeat the twist to the right side.
Chair Warrior 1- Virabhadrasana
The warrior pose strengthens the thighs, back muscles, arms and shoulders all in one go. Virabhadrasana means a brave warrior, is the most graceful yoga postures that adds beauty and grace to yoga. Other than strengthening the muscles, this chair yoga pose improves balance in the body and increases stamina. It is extremely essential for frozen shoulders and releases any stress in a very short span of time. Begin by keeping the right leg in position over the side of the chair while you swing the left leg behind. Place the left foot on the floor roughly holding parallel to the seat of the chair and straighten the left leg. Hold your lower body facing towards the right leg, as you lift your arms up to the ceiling while inhaling arriving at the warrior 1 pose. Hold on to for three breaths.
Chair Warrior II- Virabhadrasana II
This asana is also a beginner’s level yoga pose that helps strengthen the ankles and legs. The Chair warrior 2 pose stretches shoulders, legs, groin, lungs, thorax and ankles. Begin with exhaling and opening up the arms with the right arm coming forward and the left arm going back. Take the left hip back and turn your torso to the left, so that it is in straight line with the front of the chair. Look above the right fingertips and hold the step for at least three breaths.
Reverse warrior on a chair stretches the waist and energizes the whole body. It strengthens the groin, legs, hips, waist and the sides of the torso. It also improves the flexibility of the chest, ankles, spine and inner thighs. Regular practice of this pose will improve stamina and relive the low back pain. Allow the left arm to come down the left leg and lift the right arm up to the ceiling while inhaling for reverse warrior. Hold onto for three breaths. Now, bring both the legs to the front of the chair before coming to sit sideways on the chair looking to the left and going through all the different three warrior poses on the left side. Practicing the reverse warrior pose can be fun and is a good way to increase strength and beauty to the daily routine.
Final Relaxation-Chair Shavasana
Shavasana is a pose that is performed in the end. It helps the body relax and aids in absorbing the good benefits of yoga. Sit with your eyes closed and your hands placed on the lap at the end of all the yoga poses. This pose helps transition your body into a rest state. It calms your nerves and refreshes your energy levels and makes way for an energetic start for the day.
The above mentioned chair yoga poses can be done anywhere. If you want to do some yoga sitting on the chair, then the above chair yoga steps are more than enough to get you going for the whole day. It is simple and with little modifications can be done by anyone young and old.