Yoga truly is for everyone, and it can be practiced at any time. You don’t even need a mat; just use the chair you’re sitting in.
Chair yoga is ideal for yogis with injuries, elderly yogis, or even yogis confined to a desk. It still offers the meditative benefits of any mat practice and can increase your range of motion, build flexibility, and even strengthen muscles. By using your breath as you move just as you would on your mat, a chair practice can become a powerful routine.
Here are 4 easy chair yoga postures to get you started:
The first chair yoga pose… that is not done in a chair but rather standing. You can still reap the benefits of Mountain Pose from a chair. Simply inhale and raise your hands above your head, then exhale and slowly release your arms to your side. Flow through this three times and you will instantly feel refreshed. This posture is wonderful for older folks who may tire from standing sun salutations. It’s also a great pose for an afternoon pick-me-up at the office.
Simple hip opener
Another chair yoga pose is half pigeon. You don’t have to get into half pigeon pose on the floor to feel your hips open up. Just sit tall in your chair and cross one ankle over your opposite knee. This posture is especially great to do after working at a desk for a long period of time, as your hips grow tight from sitting.
If your hips are especially tight and you cannot lay your top shin parallel to the ground after crossing your ankle over your opposite knee, feel free to modify by wrapping both of your arms around your top knee and holding it a little further away from the ground. Cradle your knee in your arms to support it.
If you’re getting back into your yoga practice after an injury, try Warrior II with the support of a chair under your front thigh. This way you can still practice alignment even if you haven’t yet built the strength in your legs to completely hold the posture on your own.
To get into this posture, stand and face the chair. If you are performing Warrior II with your right leg in front, step over the chair so that you are straddling the seat. Gaze to your right and lower down by bending your right knee to a 90-degree angle and sliding your left leg behind you. Allow your right quad muscle to rest on the chair for support. Engage through your left leg and press your back foot into the ground. Raise your arms parallel to the earth, palms facing down. Hold for a few long deep breaths before switching sides.
From Warrior II, you can move to Reverse Warrior in order to get a yummy side body stretch right from your chair. Maintain the lunge in your front leg and keep your back leg engaged. Raise your front arm up overhead. Allow your front palm to face behind you and gaze to your top palm. Slide your back arm down your back leg. Place little to no weight in this back palm. Lift up and out of your waist to stretch through your front side body. Avoid excessively backbending.
Performing this posture with the chair’s assistance allows you to focus completely on proper alignment and not on your leg strength.
Even if you’re unable to perform these chair postures, you can always practice sitting up as tall as possible in your chair and cultivating your ujjayi breath to gain clarity and energy, no matter where you are.