One of the great things about yoga is that it can be adapted to accommodate body and space limitations.
Are you recovering from foot, ankle, or knee surgery and want a non-weight bearing option for your yoga practice?
Do you have some balance concerns?
Have you tried conscious breathing and yoga postures while sitting at work or on an airplane?
Chair yoga might appeal to you.
The tradition of yoga reaches back hundreds of years and includes physical postures, breathing techniques, and spiritual and lifestyle principles.
Yoga is not exclusively what we see in magazines–lithe people creating shapes that seem unattainable for some of us.
Yoga postures, or asanas, are more than the physical shape on creates, but is also the energy behind the postures.
Try these chair yoga warm-ups and postures, each with an adaptation of the traditional physical shape of the pose but with the same energy.
Warm-ups for chair yoga
Inhale, bring your right ear towards your right shoulder. Exhale here. Inhale, bring your chin towards your chest. Exhale here. Inhale, bring your left ear towards your left shoulder. Exhale here. Go from side to side 4 times.
Inhale, bring your shoulders forward and up towards your ears. Exhale, bring your shoulders back and down. Repeat 8 times.
Chair yoga poses
Seated Cat pose
Seated Cat Pose offers the opportunity for spinal flexion.
Traditional Cat Pose is performed on the hands and knees. In the seated option, instead of weight bearing thru the shoulders and knees we weight bear thru the sitz bones. This offers a different perspective for pelvic floor muscle awareness.
As you exhale, pull your lower abdomen in as you curl your tailbone under. Allow your pelvis to curl under, your spine to create a C shape, and chin towards chest.
As you inhale, imagine your tailbone untucks, coming back into a neutral spine.
Seated Cow pose
Seated Cow Pose offers the opportunity for spinal extension.
Picture your pelvic basin as a bowl. As you inhale, imagine tipping the bowl forward, bringing your pubic bone down and hip points forward as your back arches and sternum lifts.
Exhale, coming back into a neutral spine.
Seated Mountain pose
You might be familiar with practicing Mountain Pose in a standing position. In standing, we ground thru our feet. In sitting, we ground through our sitz bones and our feet.
Sit at the edge of your chair. Imagine the soles of your feet are plugging down into the ground. Imagine the sitz bones are heavy, allowing the tissues that surround the sitz bones to sink into the chair. At the same time, lengthen thru the spine and up thru the top of the head.
You can also extend your arms up toward the ceiling, reaching out thru the fingertips while keeping your shoulders relaxed.
Notice the energetic difference between standing and seated Mountain Pose.
Seated Half Moon pose
Who doesn’t love a side bend? Seated Half Moon is helpful for people who would like more support in their side bend.
Start in Seated Mountain Pose with your left hand on the seat of the chair. Inhale, bringing your right up overhead. Exhale, lifting up out of the waist and side bending to the left. Inhale back to center or stay for a few breaths. Repeat on the other side.
Seated Half Moon offers a supported stretch for the abdominal wall and the muscles that attach to the spine.
Start in Mountain Pose and open both knees. You might feel a stretch in the inner thighs.
Lift up tall thru the spine. Option to bring your arms into “cactus arms”, bending the elbow at 90 degrees and splaying your fingers.
Practice the dichotomy of the grounded lower body and active upper body while breathing into the belly and pelvic floor.
Start in Mountain Pose at the side of your chair (if this is safe and won’t tip). This can also be done on a physio ball (again, be safe!).
Ground down through your left foot. Extend your right leg back with the knee straight. Turn your leg out from the top of the hip and perhaps your heel will make contact with the floor.
You may opt to have your arms up overhead with your fingertips reaching towards the ceiling and shoulders relaxed.
Seated Warrior 1 is a good option for further along in pregnancy.
Seated Warrior 2 will have a similar energetic feel to Seated Goddess. There is a stillness in the lower body and bouyant directness in the upper body.
Start in Seated Mountain. Open your left knee out to the left. Extend your right leg out to the side with your knee straight.
See if you can weight bear on the whole surface of the right foot, which will offer a stretch to the outside of the right lower leg.
Bring your arms out to the sides and reach out thru the fingertips with as much energy as you give to lengthening your spine and lifting thru the top of the head.
Seated Warrior 2 can help you focus on your intention. Find a spot on the wall to gaze at. As you breathe, focus on your mantra or thought as you stay grounded thru the lower body and energized thru the top body.
I hope this blog helps dispel the myth that yoga has to “look” a certain way.