If you don’t think chair yoga is a challenge, give it a shot. You’ll be surprised at what kind of a workout you can get when seated AND how closely the poses can be to what you would do on a mat. Chair yoga is great for seniors, those in wheelchairs and yes, for people who work in an office and only get a short lunch.
The poses below are just a sample of what you can do to stretch and move, without standing up. Even the 10 minutes it takes to do these will rejuvenate you!
When we sit, our lumbar spine naturally sits in a back bend. It connects to the thoracic spine at the top, sacral spine at the bottom and curves inward toward the front body. When we sit still for long periods with gravity pulling us downward, we get ‘stuck’ in position and our back and hips tell us so!
When you feel you back protesting, move into a lovely Seated Forward Fold. Slide your chair back, inhale and you lift your arms upward, out from the body to above the head. Exhale, bringing the arms down and allowing the belly to rest down on the thighs, touch fingertips to the floor/hug your knees, while drawing chin in towards to chest. Rest here for a few breaths, then inhale, drawing the arms overhead again. Exhale as you lower the arms to the chair. Repeat as needed.
A Seated Twist is nice to move the spine, move the shoulders and flex the neck. Sitting with feet on the floor in front of you, place left hand on right knee and reach left hand to the back of the chair, holding on to a rung or the seat. Inhale and as you exhale, moving from the bellybutton first, twist towards the left, turning the upper body to the back of the chair. Allow the gaze to track over the left shoulder, exercising the eyes. When it feels right, inhale back to center and enjoy a Seated Forward Fold. Set up for a Seated Twist on the other side and enjoy. Finish with another Seated Forward Fold.
Seated Figure 4 really helps you get into those hips and the glutes, stretching them out after long periods of sitting. Place feet on the floor in front of you. Cross right ankle over left knee, taking care not to push forward on the patella. If you’d like to add more intensity, gently bend forward from the waist, bowing over the bent leg. This is a big hip opener, so ne mindful of the stretch, moving slowly into it. Repeat on the other side and then stretch upward, clasping hands together as you draw them to the ceiling, gaze upward. Relax the arms back down to your sides.
Chair Lunge is wonderful for those with balance issues and bad knees/hips. It is fully supported, while being a beautiful long stretch. CAUTION: The chair you use should be sturdy and well-balanced, without arms. Resting the sit bones back in the seat of the chair, with your back at the back of the chair, twist slightly to the right, holding the front of the chair with the left hand and the back of the chair with your right. Carefully turn your body in the direction of the twist, turning to the right and let the chair take the full weight of your right hip/sit bone as you extend the left leg back. The knee of the right leg should be in alignment over the right ankle and the toes of the left foot curled under, supporting the left leg with bent knee. When ready, carefully turn back to the center, sit back in the chair and move into a Seated Forward Fold. Repeat on the other side.
End your practice with a couple of deep cleansing breaths, inhaling through the nose and exhaling slowly through the mouth. Sit back in the chair and let your thoughts just drift for a moment or two. Come back to the present, body and mind refreshed.