8 Best Forms Chair Yoga To Try For Yourself

There are lots of different types of yoga which serve different purposes and offer various benefits. But what about yoga for people who are not very mobile? Or yoga for people who don’t have a lot of time to spend on their practice? 

8 Best Forms Chair Yoga To Try For Yourself

Chair yoga is made up of poses that you can do while seated on a chair. This is ideal for seniors or people who do not have much mobility.

It can also be handy for office workers or people who have a busy day – they can take a few minutes to do some stretches at their desk. 

Here are some of the best chair yoga forms and poses that you can try for yourself. 

1. Cat Cow Stretch

Alternating between the cat pose and the cow pose is done in a regular yoga practice to stretch your back. It is done in a tabletop position – on your hands and knees – but it easily adapted to be suitable for chair yoga. 

Sit up straight on your chair with your feet planted on the floor about hip width apart. You can rest your hands on your knees or on your thighs. Breathe in deeply and arch your spine, rolling your shoulders up and backwards.

This will stretch your upper back and bring your shoulder blades together. Gently tilt your head back to stretch your neck. Remember to keep your abdomen pulled into your spine to engage your core. 

As you exhale, release your spine back to nature and round your shoulders and drop your chin to your chest. Straighten your arms and push, feeling the resistance in your lower back.

Continue to move through these stretches with synchronized breathing at least 5 times, or until you feel relief in your back and shoulders. 

2. Raised Arms

This is a very simple yoga pose but it is ideal for resetting your posture as well as stretching your arms and your back. If you notice yourself beginning to slouch or you feel some aching, sit upright in your chair with your feet planted on the ground.

Take a deep breath in and raise your arms slowly towards the ceiling. Keep your shoulders relaxed, your abdomen pulled into your spine, and your ribcage in line with your hips.

Reach your fingers up towards the sky to deepen your stretch. Let your pelvis sink into the chair to provide you with an anchor. 

As you exhale, gently bring your arms back down to your sides. You can repeat this as many times as you need to. 

3. Forward Bend

The forward is great for beginners, but be careful if you have any health conditions that could cause you to become light-headed. Sit up straight in your chair and place your feet firmly on the floor.

Your arms should be loosely at your sides. Bring your abdomen into your spine to engage your core. Take a deep, slow breath inwards. 

As you exhale, bend forward from the waist so that your upper body is over your legs. Your chest should be over your thighs.

Let your head hang heavy and your arms hang loosely either side of it. If your hands reach the floor you can place your palms flat on the ground. 

As you inhale, lift your arms out in front of you and raise them up, letting your body follow until you are back in a seated position.

Bring your arms back to a neutral position and repeat this stretch as many times as you need to. 

4. Extended Side Angle

This pose begins the same way as a forward bend. Once you have folded forward from the waist and your palms are on the floor, bring the fingers of your left hand to the floor beside the outside ankle of the left foot.

You can use a block if you can’t reach the floor, or place your left hand on your left knee instead. 

Inhale, and twist your body to the right. Rotate from the right hip, turning the rib cage towards the right. Your right arm should be stretched upwards towards the ceiling and your right ear should be facing the same direction.

Gently turn your head so that you are looking up at your right hand to stretch your neck.

Take several breaths in this position, then bring your arm back down on an exhale and put your body back into a central position. You can then repeat the stretch on the other side. 

5. Pigeon

Chair pigeon is a fantastic pose for easing lower back pain. Begin in a seated position with your back straight and your feet firmly planted on the floor. Rest your hands on your knees.

Lift your right foot and bring your right ankle to rest on your left knee. Keep your knees and ankles aligned. Rest one hand on your right foot and the other on your right knee. 

If you want to deepen the stretch, gently apply pressure to the right knee to open the hips. You can also lean forward slightly to make the stretch more intense.

Take several breaths in this position before exhaling and releasing the right foot back to the ground. Repeat the stretch on the other side. 

6. Spinal Twist

This is a very easy pose that provides a lot of relief for your back and a lovely stretch through your torso and abdomen. It can also ease your digestive system.

Side sideways on your chair with the back of the chair against the left side of your body. Place your hands either side of the back of the chair, loosely holding on to it.

Twist your torso to face the back of the chair whilst keeping your hips and legs straight. This will twist your spine. 

Take several deep breaths here, each one lengthening your spine. Remember to keep your abdomen pulled in towards your spine to engage your core.

Release the pose on an exhale, turning your torso so it is once again in line with your hips and legs.

You can then turn so that you are sitting sideways facing the other way, with the back of the chair against the right side of your body. Repeat the stretch on this side. 

7. Warrior Pose

There are various different warrior poses in yoga, but for this chair adaptation we are going to focus on warrior 1. Sit sideways in your chair with the right side of your body against the back of your chair.

Your feet should be hip width apart, your feet firmly planted on the floor, your back straight, and your ribcage in line with your hips. 

From this position, swing your left leg out to the side and then extend it behind you. Place your left foot in a parallel position with the chair and plant it to the floor.

This means that your left foot will be facing ‘forward’ as it would if you were sitting normally on the chair. Make sure your torso is still facing in the same direction as your right leg, keeping your upper body straight. 

As you inhale, bring your arms up from your side so that they are stretched towards the ceiling either side of your face. The palms should be facing inwards.

Hold this position for several breaths, continuing to stretch your arms up to the sky. Release on an exhale and bring your arms back down to your sides. Bring your left leg back in line with your right leg. 

Turn around in the chair so that the left side of your body is against the back of the chair. Repeat the stretch on this side. 

8. Savasana

Savasana is a restorative pose that is often used to finish a yoga practice. You can do this during your chair yoga by adapting the pose. Instead of lying on the floor, stay seated in your chair.

Sit up straight and tall to align your spine, then let your shoulders drop and relax. Do not round your shoulders – keep your back straight but release any tension from your shoulder muscles. 

You can clasp your hands in your lap or rest them on your knees or thighs – whatever feels comfortable to you. The point of savasana is to lower your heart rate and reach a state of relaxation.

Close your eyes and take some deep breaths in this pose. Breath in through your nose and fill up your belly, expanding your abdomen as you inhale.

Exhale, pushing the air out and drawing your abdomen in towards your spine. 

This is a great way to recenter yourself if you are having a stressful day. You can also practice mindfulness in this pose, or work through some mindful breathing exercises.

Feel your weight anchored into the ground through your feet which are firmly pressed against the floor. 

Summary

You can do a quick chair yoga practice in the office or at home to stretch your body and relieve stress. You can also take part in chair yoga if you have limited strength or mobility.

Laura Simmons
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