Many people think of yoga as something that only the most flexible and dedicated people can do. They picture someone of incredible strength and flexibility and think “that can’t be me.” However, it is important to realize that everyone starts with no experience and most likely limited flexibility. Even the most zen yogi started as a beginner doing simple poses.
Everyone can enjoy yoga — even people with balance issues, stiffness, flexibility, and limited mobility. Chair yoga is a form of yoga that has particular benefits for beginners and those struggling with gaining back their full range of motion. Learn about how a yoga chair can make yoga more accessible and enjoyable for everyone.
What Is a Yoga Chair
Chair yoga involves using a chair that comes in different forms –– backless or specifically designed for inversion practices. The multiplicity of designs assures that yogis can find the right chair for any yoga poses or flows they want to do.
A yoga chair is mainly a prop that supports the practitioner’s legs, which is important if their legs are weak or stiff. Also, holding the back of the chair will allow yogis to extend their legs and arms during various standing poses.
What a Yoga Chair Is Used For
The majority of yoga studios have yoga chairs. If you’re finding certain poses too difficult, you can always ask the instructor if they can supply the prop. Doing so will provide support, security, resistance, and rehabilitation.
How To Use a Yoga Chair
Using a yoga chair will depend on the pose you’re trying to do. The ultimate goal is to relax and strengthen your body to the point that you no longer need the chair for support.
To achieve this, you must follow a series of movements that strengthen, stretch, and align your body. If you’re having difficulty with any movements, especially if you’re a beginner, it’s recommended to use a yoga chair. Doing so will allow you to remain stable in standing poses, have deeper twists and stretches, and make strengthening exercises possible.
Benefits of Chair Yoga
There’s no doubt that an active lifestyle brings plenty of benefits. However, illness, injury, or even age may prohibit someone from incorporating an exercise routine into their schedule. Fortunately, chair yoga is both effective and safe and offers a variety of other benefits.
Yoga involves smoothly shifting from one pose to the next. This series of transitions encourage and promote your proprioception, which is your body’s inherent ability to sense where it is in relation to other things. Being aware of your location, action, and movement will greatly improve your bodily coordination.
Some people often attribute the loss of flexibility to age. But this is far from the truth. Your body only loses flexibility if you do not consistently exercise it. Regularly doing chair yoga challenges your body’s flexibility and will keep your muscles elastic and strong, regardless of your age.
Moreover, stretching, twisting, bending, and being able to move freely aren’t just important skills in yoga. But having these sets of skills will allow you to easily perform the things and activities you enjoy.
In addition to improving one’s flexibility, chair yoga also improves your strength. Hence, not only will you have the flexibility to independently enjoy your hobbies and daily routine, but you’ll also decrease your chances of withstanding any fall or injury –– a strong body is more capable of withstanding and sustaining small injuries.
Examples of Yoga Chair Poses
Now that you know the benefits of chair yoga, you’ll be glad to know that you can perform chair yoga poses almost anywhere. To help you get started, here are some basic poses for you to perform.
1. Chair Forward Bend
This yoga chair pose utilizes breathing awareness. As you exhale, bend forward over your legs, and let your hands rest on the floor. Let your head hang heavy. Raise your arms back up as you inhale.
2. Seated Cat Cow
The seated cat cow is a popular yoga chair pose that starts with your hands on your thighs while sitting up tall: cat pose. When in this position, round your back to pull your abdominals into your spine. Tuck your chin into your chest and push your mid-back towards the chair to fully round your upper back.
In cow pose, move your belly forward, arching your back, and sending your sternum forward. Look up towards the ceiling. If your neck is uncomfortable, adjust your head so that it is parallel to the floor.
3. Chair Pigeon
The chair pigeon starts by resting your right ankle on your left thigh (or vice versa). Keep your knees in line with your ankle, and hold the position for three to five seconds or breaths. Repeat the process with your other ankle. To intensify the stretch, slowly bend forward, keeping your spine long and straight.
4. Sun Salutation Arms
Sun salutation arms is a yoga chair pose that aims to lengthen your spine and release any tensions in your neck and shoulders. To perform, lift your arms and press your palms up over your head when sitting tall and on every inhalation. On an exhale, allow your arms to go back down to your side. Repeat the process five times.
5. Chair Spinal Twist
To begin this pose, sit sideways on your yoga chair with the back on your left or right. Hold the back of the chair and twist your torso in that direction so you’re facing the back of the chair. Gently maintain this position, breathing deeply. Repeat the process in the opposite direction.
Yoga chairs are crucial for every yogi as they provide support and help achieve any difficult poses that involve extension, bracing, and exertion, allowing yogis to relax and harness the benefits that every yoga pose brings.
Due to a yoga chair’s sturdy structure, you can rely on it when performing essential movements. You’ll be much more comfortable and relaxed doing various poses using a yoga chair, and you won’t have to let injuries, disabilities, or difficulties hinder you from practicing yoga.