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8 Chair Yoga Postures to Try Out

Yoga is a low-impact form of exercise that helps the body stretch to improve flexibility, circulation, and range of motion. But do you have to be standing to glean all the benefits yoga has to offer or is chair yoga a viable option?

Our lives can be pretty busy. Some people just can’t afford the time to travel to a yoga class every other day. Others need to do yoga when it counts, like in the middle of their workday, sitting in their computer chair. 

So, what is chair yoga? Chair yoga consists of specific poses that require the body to be in a sitting position. It’s also known as seated yoga. 

Yoga is a low-impact exercise. It improves flexibility, blood circulation, and muscle function without putting a lot of stress on the bones or heart. Gentle chair yoga is an even lower-impact exercise. Yoga chair poses don’t require the body to leave a sitting position, but they still improve muscle function and flexibility. 

Some people do chair yoga postures in combination with regular yoga for a flexible workout. They may do a standing yoga class two or three times a week and chair yoga in the middle of their workday. Some people start with gentle chair yoga postures to strengthen their bodies until they can perform standing yoga. 

Seated yoga is fantastic for people who otherwise can’t do standing yoga. That includes:

  • People who have balance issues
  • People who experienced an injury
  • People who are older
  • People who have mobility issues
  • People who have disabilities

Anyone can practice seated yoga. Yoga chair poses are not difficult and can even be done from the comfort of your own home or at your work desk. You can combine gentle chair yoga postures with any other exercise you like to do as well. Just listen to your body and don’t overdo it. 

Chair yoga postures are a great way to get your blood circulating and your muscles moving when you’re a very busy person. If you have to work long hours, break them up by doing a chair yoga sequence right at your desk. These stretches can help rejuvenate you for the rest of your shift. 

If you’re interested in trying chair yoga, we’ve compiled an 8-pose chair yoga sequence that you can do anywhere you’re sitting down. 

This gentle chair yoga sequence is designed to flow from one position to the next, from beginning to end. If you can’t do one of the yoga chair poses, feel free to skip it. You can also do as much as you can without straining and work into the pose over time. 

As you move through the poses, remember to breathe deeply and consciously. Deep breathing is an important technique that helps your lungs stretch and fill with oxygen, which helps your muscles flex and grow. As you hold each pose, take a few deep breaths and allow your body to settle into the positions before moving to the next one.

The candle pose is the first pose to start your chair yoga sequence with. 

  • Place your feet flat on the floor with your back straight. This is a proper yoga chair posture.
  • Straighten your back and lift your arms, palms together, over your head.
  • Bend your elbows slightly, keeping your palms together.

Hold this pose for 30 seconds, breathing slowly and deeply.

Start this pose while you are still in the candle pose.

  • Separate your palms but keep them facing each other.
  • Stretch your arms upwards, unbending the elbows. 
  • Lift your feet, straightening your legs.
  • Form an “L” shape with your body.

Hold this pose for 30 seconds. If you notice your legs are shaking, that’s okay. The more you do this pose, the stronger your core muscles will be, and eventually your legs will stop shaking. If you can’t hold this pose for 30 seconds, relax your legs, take a few deep breaths, and move onto the next pose. 

It’s important to breathe through this pose or you may end up light-headed. 

  • Place your feet flat on the ground, with knees bent comfortably. 
  • Bend forward till your forehead is parallel to your knees.
  • Let your arms fall forward in a relaxed position.
  • Lay your hands on top of your feet if they reach; if not, let them stretch gently toward your feet.

Hold this pose for 30 seconds, then return to a proper seated position. Repeat this pose three times. This pose stretches your back. It’s a very important pose for people who sit all day during work. 

This pose can be difficult to achieve the first try. Keep working at this pose until your body can stretch into it, but never force yourself to do anything painful.

  • Start in the forward bend pose.
  • Lift one hand off your foot and extend the arm up, pointing your hand to the ceiling.
  • Allow your torso to twist to the side and your head to rotate so your ear is parallel with your knee.

Hold this pose for 30 seconds, and repeat three times on each side. This gives your back muscles a chance to stretch and helps your spine develop strong core muscles.

This sitting yoga pose can take some time getting used to as well. It’s very important for shoulder flexibility, so if you can’t reach the position at first, do what you can and move on. Each day you do it, your body will loosen up. 

  • Begin in the forward bend pose.
  • Lift both your hands away from your feet and rotate both of them behind you, keeping the arms straight.
  • Clasp your hands together with your arms straight above you, forehead parallel to your knees. 

Hold this position for 30 seconds. Repeat this pose three times. When you release your hands, don’t let them fall fast; let them relax slowly so you don’t hit them on anything.

You may already be doing a form of this pose if you sit for long hours. 

  • Begin in a sitting position with your back straight.
  • Rotate your torso to one side, using the arms of the chair to help you hold the position.
  • Hold the position for 30 seconds, repeat three times per side.

Don’t rotate so far that you force your back to crack and pop. Some cracking may happen naturally as your spine twists and stretches, but forcing it can hurt your back. 

This pose is so-named because your body is (kind of) shaped like a star while you do it. 

  • Start in a sitting position with feet flat on the ground. 
  • Lift your feet outwards, keeping your legs straight and out to the sides.
  • Lift your arms outwards, keeping your elbows straight.
  • Keep your back straight and head facing forward. 

Hold this pose for 30 seconds and repeat three times.  

The final pose is a great stretch to end with. Do not do it in a chair with wheels.

  • Begin in a sitting position with feet flat on the ground. 
  • Pull your arms behind your back and slide your hands under your buttocks.
  • Keeping your feet flat on the ground, slide your body into a straight line, from your feet up to your head, supporting yourself on your arms and the chair.

Hold this position for 30 seconds and repeat three times.

As with all forms of exercise, it’s important to listen to your body. If you feel strained or tired, relax and rest. Every person’s body is in a different state of strength and flexibility, so you may need to work your way up to the full pose.

Gentle chair yoga is a powerful tool anyone can use to become more flexible and improve blood circulation. Whether you’re at work behind a desk or healing from an injury, seated yoga can give you security and support while your body flexes and breathes. 

You can start out by modifying some of the harder yoga chair poses and work your way up to them, too. If you begin following this chair yoga sequence for a month, you’ll start to see dramatic results in your flexibility and possibly a reduction in your inflammation and pain.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/28008603

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3410195/

https://clinicaltrials.gov/ct2/show/NCT02113410

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