No matter what age or skill level you are, yoga can provide both physical and mental benefits. Chair yoga simply modifies traditional yoga movement. This method is perfect for individuals who may be physically limited either by their personal fitness or location.
There are dozens of poses to try. But there is no need to over complicate things. If you are ready to give chair yoga a try, all you need is this short guide to get started!
The Chair – You don’t need a special chair to do chair yoga. Just a nice, sturdy chair with a back but without wheels. A simple folding chair will do. Make sure your feet can rest flat on the floor. If not, use a yoga block under your feet to help with proper posture.
Breathing – Before beginning any exercise, it is best to center yourself and focus. While sitting tall, place your hands on your hips and take deep breaths through the nose. Make sure to consciously feel your lungs expand, then slowly exhale. Do this ten times and congratulations! You’ve just completed Ujjayi Breathing.
Move #1: The Forward Bend – This is a great exercise to begin the day. Start with your feet slightly more than shoulder width apart. From an upright position and arms dangling down in front of you, slowly bend ninety degrees until your palms touch the floor – or as far as your body comfortably allows.
Move #2: Sun Salutation – This move is essentially the opposite of the forward bend. Again, sitting nice and tall, take a deep breath and lift your arms upwards. As you do, press your palms together and reach straight up and hold for a moment. Then, slowly let your arms fall to your side. Tension in your spine and shoulders will be released.
Move #3: Hip Circles – After the first to vertical exercises, its time to get your body moving laterally. Keeping your upper body as still as possible, begin making circles with your hips in a clockwise motion. Do this five times and then reverse direction. This move helps relax the hips and loosen your core.
Move #4: Neck Stretches – Much of our stress is carried in the muscles running through our neck and into the shoulders. Reach your right arm over your head until your palm touches your left ear. Then slowly allow your head to tilt toward your right shoulder. Don’t pull with your arm, but instead use is a weight to assist in stretching your neck muscles. Hold for five deep breaths then repeat for the other side.
Move #5: Pigeon Pose – This move not only stretches your groin and glutes, it gets your digestive system going. Sit up tall and raise your right ankle and rest it on your left thigh. Make sure your leg, ankle to knee, is perpendicular to the floor. Hold for 5 breaths and repeat with the other leg.
As you become comfortable with the basics, you can continue to expand your repertoire. Chair yoga will help build strength and flexibility while improving mental clarity. More than enough reasons to start today!