As the name suggests, chair yoga refers to modified poses performed while seated in a chair. Modified poses make yoga accessible to people with mobility issues, back problems, or poor posture. Chair Yoga maintains most of the body mechanics, and while seated on chairs, you can do variations of forward bends, twists, hip stretches, and mild backbends.
Many senior rehabilitation centers offer chair yoga classes to their participants. In fact, older adults with posture problems are the primary target audience for chair yoga. However, this type of yoga is also beneficial for people with neurological disorders, obesity, and muscle problems.
Office workers can likewise benefit from chair yoga’s modified stretches at work. The benefits of yoga are highly researched and documented. However, aging, injuries, and illnesses make yoga a challenge for many people. Fortunately, you can perform chair yoga because it is effective and safe. Read on!
Chair Yoga allows you to move, bend, twist, and stretch, enabling you to engage in your favorite day-to-day activities. Flexibility deteriorates as you age, and this is true up to some extent.
However, the general rule is that use flexibility or lose it. Chair Yoga allows you to challenge your body gently to increase flexibility in muscles, which eventually leads to better mobility.
Improved Strength & Proprioception
Each yoga pose requires you to use your muscles. The purpose is to build strength, which leads to better posture and balance, reducing the risk of falls. Chair yoga can also improve your body’s ability to cope with injury or mitigate its adverse effects.
Moreover, yoga means shifting from one pose to another, and this improves your proprioception. It means your central nervous system gets a sense of your body’s position in the surroundings or the environment.
It also relays information about your body’s movement and speed, leading to improved coordination between the body and mind. As a result, your risk of falling decreases significantly.
Reduced Stress & Pain
Mindfulness is an integral part of the yoga discipline, allowing you to focus on your breathing, movement, and your body’s ability to react to the exercise. It creates a moving meditation that reduces stress, promotes relaxation, and enhances mental clarity.
Like other physical activities and exercises, chair yoga increases blood flow to your brain to release serotonin, dopamine, and endorphins. These chemicals calm your mind and produce analgesic effects on body muscles.
Chair Yoga is also beneficial for people with spine problems that cause severe pain. Working out prompts your brain to release endorphins, natural painkillers that relieve discomfort and pain. Next, we will talk about some of the best chair yoga poses. Continue reading!
Chair Cat-Cow Stretch
- Sit on a chair, keep your spine long and your feet on the ground. Position both your hands on the tops of your thighs or knees.
- Take a deep breath in, arch your spine, and roll down and back your shoulders. Position your shoulder blade onto your spine (Cow Position).
- Round your back on the exhalation and drop your head to your chest. Let your head and shoulders come forward (Cat Position).
- Repeat the steps for five breaths
Chair Forward Bend
- Inhale, exhale, and position your body into a forward bend over your legs. Place your hands on the floor, and if you can reach the ground, this is good.
- Let your head hang heavy, and on the inhalation, elevate your arms over your head.
- Repeat the steps several times while moving with the breath.
- Sit comfortably on a chair and bring your right ankle to a comfortable position – i.e. rest it on your left thigh.
- Keep your knee aligns with your ankle and hold this position for 3-5 breaths.
- You can bend forward to slightly intensify the stretch. Repeat the first two steps with your left leg.
- Cross your left thigh over your right thigh and wrap your right foot around your left calf.
- Cross your right arm over your left one at the elbow. Bend your elbows to touch your palms.
- Drop your shoulders while lifting your elbows. Make sure your shoulders stay away from your ears.
- Hold this position for 3-5 breaths and repeat the steps on the other side.
There are dozens of yoga poses that you can perform while seated on a chair. Modifications make chair yoga an ideal option for those above the age of 55 or people with spine problems, posture issues, and neurological disorders. It is also suitable for office workers.