It’s no surprise that yoga is a very beneficial practice, both physically and mentally. However, it can be hard to look at yogis that have practiced for years and imagine that you could ever get to that level of balance and focus. It is not impossible, but it does take some time, practice, and dedication to become proficient in yoga. For some, practicing yoga may seem impossible due to older age or various mobility issues. Well, you can practice yoga from a chair! If you don’t know where to start or are unable to physically perform typical yoga, chair yoga may be for you. We’ve broken down the many benefits of chair yoga. It can positively impact your life and get you feeling your best.
What is Chair Yoga?
The meaning is in the name! Chair yoga is yoga that you can do while in a seated position on a chair or could involve standing while using a chair for support. It is perfect for anyone who wants to get into yoga but has any mobility obstacles. Chair yoga may also be helpful for the elderly. It is an excellent way for them to exercise without overexerting or straining their bodies.
Although chair yoga is excellent for exercise, it is also helpful in aiding stretching for those who aren’t flexible enough to practice deep stretches just yet.
Benefits of Chair Yoga
Alright, now that we know what it is exactly, let’s delve into the benefits of practicing yoga in a chair!
Easy on the Body
The best thing about chair yoga is that you can get all the benefits of regular yoga without the extra strain on your body. By using a chair instead of a mat or the floor, you can do similar poses to those of typical yoga, but with less strain.
Good for the Elderly
One of the benefits of chair yoga is that it is perfect for seniors. As we age, it is important to remain healthy and strong. This is the best way to prevent injury and create a better quality of life. Another benefit of chair yoga for seniors is it allows them to maintain (or even gain) flexibility.
Generally, seated chair yoga is beneficial for seniors in all the ways it is beneficial for younger folks. However, as aging occurs, exercise and stretching become more difficult, or they simply aren’t a priority anymore. This is why chair yoga exercises and stretches are so helpful for seniors. They are easy to do, don’t take too much time, and are very effective.
It’s the Perfect Starting Point for Beginners
For those who are new to yoga and don’t feel entirely comfortable doing the “real thing,” doing yoga in a chair is the perfect way to begin. By steadily gaining strength and flexibility, you can work your way to being comfortable doing classic yoga. No one starts out being perfect at yoga, it takes time, patience, and consistency to become comfortable doing various yoga poses. Seated chair yoga is the perfect place to start your journey!
Great way to Stretch at Work
If you have a desk job, you know better than anyone that sitting all day can take a surprising toll on the body. Well, a great benefit of chair yoga at work is that you can alleviate some of those aches and pains right at your desk. It can also help to practice some breathing exercises if you need to calm down before or after an important meeting or presentation!
Increased Muscle Awareness
One underrated benefit of chair yoga is the muscle awareness it provides. By thinking about and identifying each muscle you use during chair yoga (or regular yoga!), you may become more aware of how you are using them in your day-to-day life. It sounds odd, but it can be hard for those who don’t exercise at all to utilize each muscle properly. This lack of use can lead to muscle imbalances, which causes some muscles to compensate for the weaker muscles, which, in turn, creates pain or even injury.
Proprioception refers to the body’s awareness of where it is in space and dramatically affects how we move smoothly, without losing balance. Chair yoga benefits the body’s ability to move smoothly from one pose to another. It encourages fluidity with each movement as you practice and grow stronger. Therefore, your proprioception should become better as you practice more and more.
One excellent benefit of practicing chair yoga poses is their ability to increase flexibility. Stretching (doesn’t have to be yoga stretches!) regularly is the only way to gain flexibility. However, using chair yoga stretches is perfect for those with limited mobility, and even for those who don’t like sitting on the floor to stretch.
Although it does take time and consistency to gain flexibility, it is well worth it! Your body will steadily begin to feel less tight and cramped, and who knows, you might even be able to do the splits with enough practice.
Strengthen your Body
This one is a bit of a no-brainer! Using your muscles in various chair yoga poses will help to strengthen them. Who needs a gym to get strong? Not you! Any type of exercise can help build muscles if done properly, but one benefit of chair yoga is that holding various poses helps strengthen your muscles immensely. Having stronger muscles can help with your balance, and keep you feeling healthy and stable in any pose.
Lower Stress Levels
One benefit of chair yoga is its aid in lowering stress through the mindfulness and deep breathing that is part of the yoga experience. Moving slowly from one pose to the next, and being mindful of your breathing can help calm the mind and make you feel more at ease. Especially if you practice your chair yoga exercises after or before a stressful day, it can help you release the anxiety from your busy day.
Improve Sleep Quality
Exercising regularly is known to cause better sleep quality. By practicing chair yoga regularly, you may have an easier time getting tired in the evening, so you’ll be able to fall asleep faster. The stress-reducing qualities of chair yoga poses may also aid in making your mind ready to rest at night, as well as through the night.
Our Favorite Chair Yoga Poses
Here’s just a few of the best chair yoga poses for you to try today!
1. Seated Cat-Cow Pose
Cat cow is a classic yoga pose that opens up the chest and stretches and lengthens the spine.
- Sit at the edge of your chair; hands can rest on your legs.
- Exhaling, round your back, pushing the top of your back upwards, and making it as round as possible. Imagine pulling your belly button into your spine, and move so your tailbone is under you.
- Bend your neck so that your chin touches your chest, or so it’s as close to your chest as you can get.
That’s the “cat” part of the pose.
- Next, begin to inhale.
- Slowly arch your back, with your chest pushing outwards, with your head looking directly up. This is the “cow” part of your pose.
You can keep doing these poses for a few breaths, inhale on cow, exhale on cat.
2. Seated Pigeon Pose
This pose is the perfect seated yoga pose if you have hip tightness. You’ll definitely feel this one!
- Sitting in the middle of your chair with your left foot on the ground, place your right ankle up, so it rests just before your knee on the left leg.
- Keep your left leg facing slightly outward, so your knee doesn’t cave in while you perform this stretch.
- Exhaling, lean down towards your knee as far as you can. Don’t forget to bend from the hips, so your entire torso should be leaning forward.
- As you inhale, straighten back up, keeping your spine straight.
You may also press slightly on your right knee to enhance this stretch.
3. Seated Forward Fold
This is another excellent hip stretch, but it also should make your back feel great!
- Start by sitting in your chair with your hands on the top of your legs.
- Breathe in, and on your exhale, slowly bend forward at the hips.
- Let your hands reach down between your feet and lean forward as far as you can. Don’t round your back too much; remember to bend from the hips!
- Keep your neck relaxed, allow your head to hang down between your knees if you can lean forward that far.
- As you inhale, slowly roll your body back up into the sitting position.
4. Seated Fold Twist
This pose is perfect to do right after you finish forward fold. It helps to open the chest and shoulders up.
- As you finish your forward folds, stay in the folded position.
- Reach your right arm down to touch the floor, on the outside of your right foot. Use a block if you have a hard time reaching the floor.
- Inhale, twisting your body toward the left, and outstretch your left arm up towards the ceiling/sky.
- Turn your head so that you are looking up towards your elevated hand. You should feel your chest and lungs expanding as you stretch outward.
- As you start exhaling, return to the folded position, and repeat for a few breaths.
Chair yoga is a fantastic way to focus on your physical and mental health, and we hope you use it to your advantage. Now, go forth and sit, stretch, and strengthen!