Chair yoga is an unconventional and gentler type of yoga that is performed while seated in a chair or standing but using the chair as support. The poses are commonly modifications of Hatha Yoga poses. In most instances, chair yoga students are unable to practice traditional yoga as a result of aging or some form of disability. Those who are teaching chair yoga classes mostly do so at adult daycare centers, retirement facilities or senior fitness centers.Who Can Practice Chair Yoga?
Senior citizens are the target demographic for chair yoga classes. However, those with neurological disorders and the obese are also candidates of the chair method. Also, many office workers take advantage of the adaptations found in the practice by using stretches at work after sitting in front of a computer for many hours at a time.
Why Do Chair Yoga?
There are an endless number of poses that can be conducted using chair yoga which help to break unhealthy patterns and strengthen and tone muscles. Chair yoga poses help to increase the amount of blood that flows to the body. Through a number of breathing exercises, the body become calm, relaxed, energized, focused and rejuvenated while strengthening the circulatory and nervous system. Also part of chair yoga is meditation and visualization which help to remove stress.
5 Best Chair Yoga Poses
Those who are teaching chair yoga classes commonly recommend the following five poses which can be done at home, work or at the gym and are popular in class.
This pose begins by sitting close to the front edge of the chair, feet parallel, hip-wide apart with ankles, knees and hips at right angles and feet pressed against the floor. Lift your head to the ceiling and lengthen your neck and spine while anchoring your behind to the chair. Next, roll your shoulders up, back and relaxing down. Finally, lift your sternum while keeping your chin parallel with the floor and bring your palms together, touching thumbs over your heart.
Full Sitting Mountain
From the Sitting Mountain pose, reach your arms above your head as you inhale so that they are shoulder-width apart while keeping your palms facing one another. Then, relax your shoulders and extend your spine and neck. Finally, arch your back while gazing forward and reaching for the sun.
Start with the Full Sitting Mountain technique then lean forward from the hips and exhale while maintaining a straight, extended neck and spine. Raise your hands toward the floor. If you suffer from hypertension, keep your arms at your knees and you head lifted.
Start by placing your hands on your knees. Then, lift your sternum and shift your shoulders back as you inhale, thus expanding your chest and extending your spine. Slowly slide back your right foot approximately six inches so that it rests on the ball. Finally, slightly lift your chin as you gaze forward.
Begin with the Lunge pose and slide back your left foot around six inches so that it is parallel with your right foot. Place pressure on the balls of your feet and engage the thigh and abdominal muscles. Next, lift your sternum and extend your arms in front of your chest while flexing the hands at the wrists. Slowly exhale as you move forward from your hips and press your hands to an imaginary wall.
Faye Martins, is a Yoga teacher and a graduate of the Yoga teacher training program at: Aura Wellness Center in, Attleboro, MA.