International Yoga Day was yesterday and I wanted to share something I’ve never seen before. Chair Yoga!
Why Chair Yoga?
Chair Yoga has a few benefits for those with low mobility:
- Some people can’t get to the floor for regular yoga; if they can, some can’t get up without assistance.
- It forces you to use your core muscles to remain upright, instead of using the floor for support.
- There’s less of a chance of you falling asleep during Yoga if you’re sitting, as opposed to laying down. This happens more often than you think.
- For those who are very tight in their muscles and around their joints, this yoga allows more breathing room to open things up slowly. Most people who are unfamiliar with yoga will try to do a stance they can’t perform without a certain amount of flexibility. Without that flexibility, the individual can injure themselves.
- Using the chair allows you to focus your balance. A lot of Seniors with equilibrium problems enjoy this aspect.
- You can more easily reach your water bottle in a sitting position. You may not realize your dehydrated until you start the yoga.
Chair Yoga is a form of yoga that’s much more gentle on the body. Beginners and Seniors love how easy it is on the joints. Take a look at this routine by Chopra Center:
Yoga always starts with relaxation from head to toe. Take your time with this, as sometimes your body doesn’t want to relax. Start with the deep breathing, then focus your attention mentally on the toes and tell them to relax. If you feel a change, move to your feet, then to the ankles, then legs. Keep doing this until you’ve relaxed your legs, torso, shoulders, arms, and head.
Keeping the alignment the instructor above has is important. Chairs nowadays aren’t made to keep the body in perfect posture. Using something to bolster your feet up will give the body the chance to realign itself.
Notes during the routine
Nostril breathing can be hard for those who have sinus issues. You can’t breathe as it is! If you can’t do this form of breathing, close your eyes, take in a slow breath either through the nose or through the mouth (if you’re completely clogged up), hold your breath for a moment, then exhale through the mouth slowly.
Head Rolls always seem to include bringing your head back, curving the cervical spine into an overextended curve. To prevent headaches during this: when you bring your head back, if you feel any pressure on your spine, bring your head forward slightly until you no longer feel the pressure. That’s as far back as you should go with your head rolls. Also, if you get dizzy during the head rolls, just do a couple of head rolls the other direction to equal yourself out. You may be dehydrated as well, take a sip of water and wait for the dizziness to pass before continuing.
Hip Circles are meant to help your balance. If you feel like you’re starting to tip over during this, spread your legs a bit wider to find a better state of balance. For those with Low Back problems (bad discs, stenosis), don’t lean forward as much. If you feel pain, slowly sit back up into the center position and try again, but not as forward.
Cat Cow is well known to those who do floor yoga. The basis is to look like a cat stretching: your shoulders forward, back rounded. Then go into the cow position, back arched, shoulders back. Personal Note: Both my back and chest adjusted themselves during this, so if you have a few self-adjustments, don’t be alarmed. If pain is associated with those adjustments, go back into the center position to see if the pain subsides.
Seated Twists definately requires a little flexbility, but not much. Use your arms to cross a leg over if you have muscle weakness in the legs. Doing this, even those who are wheelchair bound can do this pose. If you can’t lift your arms, due to injury or muscle weakness, that’s okay. Just hold onto the chair like the instructor is doing.
Full Body Extension is done in every yoga session for stretching purposes. To properly do this seated, move your butt up to the front of your chair, then try this stretch. Do this slowly if you have muscle weakness or injuries.
Wide Leg Forward Fold is excellent for opening up the Low Back vertebrae and the back of the hips. If you’re tight and can’t go all the way forward, only go as far as your body will let you. If you start to shake, back up a little. Shakiness means your muscles are straining.
Moon Salutations are all about balance and maintaining posture during torso stretching. Go as far as your body will let you. The instructor goes quickly through the second phase. So, if you couldn’t follow her, replay that part of the video.
Triangle Pose is very much like Warrior pose, only seated. Watch your balance here.
Pincha Pose is like a seated Figure 4 Stretch for the gluts and piriformis. Be aware of your knees and hips during this Pose. Support under your knee with your hand if you feel they’re being strained.
Cactus Arms are to help stretch your pecs (only if you’re very tight), and then to help your curl into one of your legs to help your back. This is also helpful in getting mobility in the spine.
Extended Cow Pose is meant to open up your chest and the breaths should be easier after all that stretching. Gentle Twist right afterward should also be easier.
Tree Pose is much easier with a chair, especially for those with weak muscles, bad ankles, or balance problems. Check her modified versions to see how far you can go.
Seated Child’s Pose is a relaxation pose. This is where some people fall asleep, as it’s one of the easier, more comfortable positions to be in.
Shoulder and Neck Rolls are just as before. Remember to watch your neck when you go back.
The Eye Exercise is very nice to do and can help tired eyes.
Savasana is the Final Relaxation Pose and is to help ground and relax your mind and body. This is literally the final pose.
Personal Note: If you enjoyed that and want me to find more yoga videos, make a comment on this article.
Enjoy your day. Namaste.