An Introduction To Chair Yoga: What Is It & Who Is It For?
Yoga has been proven to be an effective exercise for overall health because of its many benefits. It can help reduce stress and symptoms of mental illness, improve cardiovascular health, and relieve chronic pain. Many people are aware of the different styles of yoga available to them. Some practices are more laid-back and meditative, while others are more active and strengthening.
Yoga is typically done on a mat on the floor, with many poses requiring you to sit, lie, or stand on the mat. Yoga can also be done with certain props such as blocks, straps, or bolsters. One such prop that can be used in yoga is a simple chair. In fact, chair yoga is its own thing entirely! But what is chair yoga, exactly, and who can benefit from it?
What is chair yoga?
As the name implies, chair yoga is a yoga practice done while sitting in a chair. Poses are often variations or modified versions of the typical poses found in other types of practices. The idea is to make certain poses easier or more accessible so that anyone can participate.
During chair yoga, the body is seated firmly in the chair while poses are performed. The mechanics of each pose are generally the same as they would be in their regular form, so participants can get the same twisting, stretching, and movement benefits as other forms of yoga practice.
What is chair yoga good for?
Anyone can do chair yoga, but it is especially helpful for those with mobility issues, or people who cannot stand up. It’s also a great practice that can be done while on break at work. Many people often sit at their desks all day long, and chair yoga can be a great addition to the workday to help mobilize the body and the spine for better posture and less tension.
People with disabilities that limit their movement, as well as those with temporary injuries, may find chair yoga to be of great benefit. Even though it is not the same as a typical yoga class, it still provides all the same health benefits as doing yoga on a regular basis.
Chair yoga is a popular form of exercise among older adults, with many retirement communities adding chair yoga classes to their activity roster. People with other conditions such as obesity or neurological disorders can also benefit from the ease of chair yoga.
What kind of chair is best for chair yoga?
It can be hard to tell what type of chair to choose when diving into chair yoga. The good news is that there is no special chair that needs to be purchased. A chair yoga practice focuses on adaptability, so that means that pretty much any chair will do!
There are some that may work better than others, though. For example, a desk chair with wheels obviously isn’t the best choice, because it’s much less stable. You want a chair that is stable and steady underneath you and allows your feet to reach the ground. (If your feet do not reach, you can put yoga blocks beneath them so you’re firmly planted.) Try a kitchen chair or other hard-backed option, or even a comfortable yet stable living room chaise. In the end, the type doesn’t really matter as long as it’s stable on the ground.
How often should I do chair yoga?
Just like any other yoga practice, you will reap more benefits if you do it regularly. Everyone is different, so there’s no set number of days or practices per week. Some people may opt for once a week, while others might jump into the chair for a short time every single day. Whatever works for you and gives you the drive to stick to the practice is best.
That being said, some experts believe that to get the most out of any type of yoga, it should be done at least twice a week. This is enough to keep you in steady progress but not so much that it could lead to burnout or disinterest. After a while, you may want to do more than twice a week because of how great it’s making you feel!
Chair yoga for beginners
There are several poses that are ideal for chair yoga beginners. They include:
- Chair Cat-Cow: Sitting on your chair, arch your spine and roll your shoulders back and down into cow position, then round your spine, dropping your chin to your chest to get into cat position.
- Chair forward bend: Bending at the waist, let your body fall over your legs and let your head hang heavy with your hands on the floor (if you can reach).
- Chair pigeon: Place your right ankle onto your left thigh. With your knee and ankle in alignment, slowly bend forward. Repeat on the other side.
- Chair spinal twist: Sitting sideways on the chair, twist your torso towards the left side holding onto the back of the chair with both hands. Inhale to lengthen the spine, and on the exhale, sink deeper into the twist. Repeat on the other side.
While these are just a few of the many poses you can do during chair yoga, they are great for beginners looking to slowly wade into the waters of the practice. Chair yoga is a great option for just about anyone, and since it’s easy on the body, it can be a great introduction into the yoga world.