How Chair Yoga Can Expand Your Practice

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chair yoga

There are two sides of chair yoga.

The first – probably the best-known - is that it can be a easy, non-intimidating way to get into yoga if you are de-conditioned or have some physical limitations, or to maintain your regular yoga practice after an injury or surgery.

The second is that chair yoga can take you further along the path to highly-advanced poses. Googling "advanced chair yoga" poses will show you just how far you can go.

Both types show that until you’ve spent some time doing chair yoga, you have no idea how satisfying it can be – not to mention how quickly it reduces stress and helps your balance.

Chair yoga means doing yoga with the help of a chair – for balance, perhaps – or using a chair as a prop, to do more advanced or deeper poses than you otherwise could.

Chair Yoga Is Always An Option

It’s best to use a chair with no arms, as it allows for more of a variety of poses, says Sheila Easa, yoga teacher and program coordinator for University Hospitals Connor Integrative Health Network. You might stand behind the chair, sit on it, or hold on to its legs, to mention just a few possibilities, depending on the pose.

Chair yoga can be an option at nearly every yoga class, Ms. Easa says.

“Anything you can do on a mat, you can adapt to a chair,” Ms. Easa says. “You can make chair yoga as easy or as hard as you like.”

It’s a very good idea to use a chair that does not have wheels, though if it does, you can often keep the chair from moving by putting it onto a yoga mat, she says.

Increased Range of Motion

If you want to try chair yoga at home, YouTube videos can provide guidance. First, just sit and breathe deeply for a few minutes to become present and calm, Ms. Easa says.

Some of the basic yoga moves you can do are stretches for the neck and shoulder. You can also do cow and cat poses easily in a chair, or even seated pigeon pose and spinal twists, she says.

The great thing about chair yoga is that anyone can do it, even with conditions such as arthritis or knee injuries, she says.

Anyone who does chair yoga will be amazed at the range of movement they experience – you  can bend more deeply with the additional balance you get from standing next to or holding the back of a chair, Ms. Easa says. For example, if you haven’t achieved a backbend yet in your yoga practice, you can move toward it by bending your back over the seat of a chair.

5 Ways Chair Yoga Can Rev Up Your Practice

Here are five ways a chair can change or rev up your yoga practice:

  1. You don’t have to be able to get on the floor – the chair brings the “floor” up to you.
  2. You will be able to move more freely because the chair gives you more room to extend your body.
  3. You can hold a pose longer, thanks to the comfort a chair provides.
  4. The chair gives you stability, building your strength while keeping you safe.
  5. It’s a new tool and a new way to experience yoga.

Many people spend their working days seated, and on the phone. During the chair yoga classes that Ms. Easa teaches, the room is darkened a bit, and soothing soft music enhances the feeling of being away from it all.

“They get to leave their desks, to move and really breathe,” she says. “Afterward, it feels so good to have stretched.”

Related Links

The practice of yoga can offer many health benefits, such as reduced stress, increased fitness and management of chronic conditions. Learn about customized yoga therapy consultations at UH Connor Integrative Health Network. 

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