Blog Mental Health Yoga Chair Yoga 21-Day Chair Yoga for Core Strength:  A Beginner’s Guide

21-Day Chair Yoga for Core Strength:  A Beginner’s Guide

Core strength is essential for maintaining good posture, balance, and overall body stability. A sedentary lifestyle (where you sit for extended periods of time) can weaken the core muscles, leading to back pain and other health issues (8).

There are many ways to strengthen your core, and one effective option is chair yoga. This 21-day guide will introduce you to the basics of chair yoga for core strength and help you develop a consistent practice.

Does Chair Yoga Count as Exercise?

Chair yoga is exercise. The definition of exercise is any physical activity that requires effort and makes your muscles work. Chair yoga satisfies both criteria as it involves gentle movements and poses that engage and strengthen many muscles (3).

However, chair yoga may not seem like traditional exercise to some as it is low-impact and can be modified for all fitness levels. It also incorporates elements of mindfulness and relaxation, making it a well-rounded form of physical activity (3).

Here are some of the best chair yoga poses for core strength:

1. Seated Cat-Cow Stretch

The Seated Cat-Cow Stretch is excellent for warming up the spine and engaging the core muscles. It helps improve posture, alleviate back pain, and increase flexibility in the spine[1].

Steps:

  1. Sit on the edge of your chair with your feet flat on the floor.
  2. Place your hands on your knees.
  3. Inhale deeply, arch your back, and look up toward the ceiling (Cow Pose).
  4. Exhale, round your spine, and tuck your chin to your chest (Cat Pose).
  5. Continue flowing between these two positions for 5-10 breaths.

2. Seated Forward Bend

This exercise stretches the lower back and hamstrings while activating the core muscles. It helps improve digestion and calm the mind.

Steps:

  1. Sit on the edge of your chair with your feet hip-width apart.
  2. Inhale and lengthen your spine.
  3. Exhale, hinge at your hips, and reach your hands toward your feet or the floor.
  4. Keep your neck relaxed and hold the position for 5-10 breaths.
  5. Slowly rise back to the starting position on an inhale.
See also
Chair Yoga Push-Ups: The Perfect Modification for Seniors or Beginners

21 day chair yoga challenge  

3. Chair Boat Pose

Chair Boat Pose strengthens the core, improves balance, and enhances concentration. It’s a great way to engage the abdominal muscles without putting strain on the lower back.

Steps:

  1. Sit on the edge of your chair with your feet flat on the floor.
  2. Lift one leg at a time until both legs are parallel to the floor.
  3. Extend your arms forward at shoulder height.
  4. Keep your back straight and engage your core.
  5. Hold the position for 5-10 breaths, then lower your legs back to the floor.

4. Seated Side Bend

This exercise stretches the sides of the torso and engages the oblique muscles. It helps improve spinal flexibility and reduce tension in the shoulders.

Steps:

  1. Sit tall in your chair with your feet flat on the floor.
  2. Raise your right arm overhead and reach toward the left side.
  3. Place your left hand on the chair for support.
  4. Hold the stretch for 5-10 breaths.
  5. Repeat on the opposite side.

5. Seated Twist

Seated Twists are excellent for improving spinal mobility and activating the core muscles. They also help with digestion.

Steps:

  1. Sit on the edge of your chair with your feet hip-width apart.
  2. Place your right hand on the back of the chair.
  3. Inhale and lengthen your spine.
  4. Exhale and twist your torso to the right, looking over your right shoulder.
  5. Hold the twist for 5-10 breaths, then return to center.
  6. Repeat on the opposite side.

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6. Chair Plank

Chair Plank is a powerful core exercise that also strengthens the shoulders, arms, and legs. It helps build overall body stability and endurance.

See also
20 Chair Yoga Exercises That'll Take You From Couch Potato To Future Yogi

Steps:

  1. Stand behind your chair and place your hands on the seat.
  2. Step back until your body forms a straight line from head to heels.
  3. Engage your core and hold the position for 20-30 seconds.
  4. Ensure your wrists are aligned under your shoulders.

7. Seated Knee Lifts

Seated Knee Lifts target the lower abdominal muscles and improve hip flexor strength. This exercise can help enhance balance and coordination.

Steps:

  1. Sit tall in your chair with your feet flat on the floor.
  2. Lift your right knee toward your chest while keeping your back straight.
  3. Lower your right foot back to the floor.
  4. Repeat with your left knee.
  5. Alternate knees for 10-15 repetitions on each side.

8. Seated Leg Extensions

Seated Leg Extensions strengthen the quadriceps and engage the core muscles. They also improve leg flexibility and muscle endurance.

Steps:

  1. Sit on the edge of your chair with your feet flat on the floor.
  2. Extend your right leg straight out, keeping it parallel to the floor.
  3. Hold for a few seconds, then lower your leg back down.
  4. Repeat with the left leg.
  5. Perform 10-15 repetitions on each side.

9. Seated Bicycle Crunches

This exercise targets the obliques and lower abs, promoting a toned midsection. It also improves coordination and balance.

Steps:

  1. Sit on the edge of your chair with your feet flat on the floor.
  2. Place your hands behind your head.
  3. Lift your right knee toward your chest and twist your left elbow toward it.
  4. Return to the starting position and repeat on the opposite side.
  5. Continue alternating for 10-15 repetitions on each side.

21 day chair yoga challenge

10. Seated Warrior II

Seated Warrior II strengthens the core, legs, and arms. It also increases stamina and focus, which makes it a powerful pose for building overall strength.

See also
10 Chair Exercises for Seniors to Maintain Balance, Strength, and Independence

Steps:

  1. Sit sideways on your chair, facing left.
  2. Extend your left leg straight out to the side.
  3. Bend your right knee at a 90-degree angle.
  4. Extend your arms out to the sides, parallel to the floor.
  5. Hold for 5-10 breaths, then switch sides.

11. Seated Eagle Arms

Seated Eagle Arms stretches the upper back and shoulders while engaging the core. It helps relieve tension and improve circulation in the upper body.

Steps:

  1. Sit tall in your chair with your feet flat on the floor.
  2. Extend your arms in front of you at shoulder height.
  3. Cross your right arm under your left arm.
  4. Bend your elbows and bring your palms together (or as close as possible).
  5. Hold for 5-10 breaths, then switch arms.

Read more: 21 Day Chair Yoga: Reasons To Add This Challenge To Your Routine

12. Seated Windshield Wipers

This exercise targets the obliques and improves spinal flexibility. It’s excellent for enhancing core strength and range of motion.

Steps:

  1. Sit on the edge of your chair with your feet flat on the floor.
  2. Place your hands on the sides of the chair for support.
  3. Lift both knees toward your chest.
  4. Gently rotate your knees to the right, then to the left.
  5. Continue alternating for 10-15 repetitions on each side.

These exercises are derived from traditional yoga practices and are designed to make chair yoga accessible and effective for beginners who are looking to strengthen their core. Regular practice over 21 days will help build a solid foundation for more advanced yoga poses and healthier living.

Can You Get in Shape with Chair Yoga?

Getting in shape with chair yoga is possible, but it requires dedication and consistency. As with any other form of exercise, results will vary depending on your current fitness level, body type, and the effort you put in. However, chair yoga offers a low-impact option for those with limited mobility or injuries that may prevent them from engaging in more strenuous forms of exercise (4).

See also
7 Chair Exercises for Belly Fat Loss

Incorporating regular chair yoga into your routine can improve muscle tone, flexibility, and balance while also providing the benefits of stress relief and relaxation (3). With proper modifications and adjustments to poses, you can challenge your core muscles without putting excess strain on your body.

Do You Need a Mat for Chair Yoga?

While a mat is not necessary for chair yoga, it can provide additional support and cushioning during your practice. If you have hardwood or tile floors, a mat can also prevent slipping and offer greater stability.

However, if you’re practicing on carpeted flooring, a mat may not be necessary. You can also use a folded blanket or towel to add extra padding under your feet or hands. It’s always a good idea to have one nearby in case you feel you need the added support.

What Happens If I Do 20 Minutes of Yoga Every Day?

If you do 20 minutes of yoga every day, you can experience both physical and mental benefits (9). Consistency is key when it comes to yoga, as the more you practice, the more your body will adapt and improve.

Physically, regular chair yoga can:

  • Increase muscle strength and flexibility, particularly in the core muscles
  • Improve posture and stability
  • Reduce stiffness in joints and increase range of motion
  • Help with weight management by burning calories and boosting metabolism

Mentally, a daily 20-minute chair yoga practice can:

  • Reduce stress and promote relaxation through mindful breathing techniques
  • Improve concentration and focus
  • Boost mood and overall sense of well-being

So 20 minutes of chair yoga in your daily routine can have numerous benefits for both your physical and mental health. 

See also
28-Day Chair Yoga For Seniors: Regain Flexibility And Build Strength With Guided

In our previous blog, Chair Exercises for Seniors, we discussed how seniors can practice chair yoga.

Is Chair Yoga Safe?

Chair yoga is safe. It’s a low-impact form of exercise that can be modified to suit your individual needs. However, as with any physical activity, it’s essential to listen to your body and only do what feels comfortable.

If you have any pre-existing medical conditions or injuries, it’s best to consult your doctor before you start any new exercise routine. They can provide guidance on how to modify poses or if there are any specific movements you should avoid.

In addition, make sure you inform your instructor (if you’re taking a class) about any limitations or concerns you may have. They can offer modifications and alternatives during the practice.

Be careful when choosing a chair for your practice. It should be sturdy and have a straight back to provide proper support. Avoid using chairs with wheels or armrests as they may not offer the necessary stability for certain poses.

Ensure that you warm up before starting your chair yoga practice and listen to your body during the session. If something feels uncomfortable or causes pain, you should stop immediately.

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21 day chair yoga challenge  

FAQs

  • Does Chair Pose reduce belly fat?

Chair Pose, or any other exercise, does not specifically target belly fat. You cannot spot reduce fat by focusing on exercising certain areas of your body. Losing fat involves creating a calorie deficit, where your body burns more calories than you consume.

You can do this by:

  • Incorporating cardio exercises into your routine, such as walking or jogging (1).
  • Eating a healthy, balanced diet (6).
  • Doing strength training exercises to build muscle mass (which can help increase metabolism) (5).

When you lose fat, there will be a decrease in body fat throughout your body, which will include your belly, but only at the same rate as everywhere else. However, Chair Pose is an excellent addition to any workout routine as it engages multiple muscle groups and helps improve overall strength. It can also contribute to building lean muscle mass and boosting metabolism, which can ultimately help reduce body fat.

  • Is chair yoga good for weight loss?

Chair yoga can be beneficial for weight loss when combined with a healthy diet and other forms of exercise. While it may not burn as many calories as more intense workouts, chair yoga helps build muscle mass, which can boost your metabolism and help with weight management (5). 

In addition, the stress-reducing benefits of yoga can prevent stress-related weight gain by lowering cortisol levels in the body. By engaging in regular chair yoga, you can increase your physical activity level, improve your mood, and make healthier lifestyle choices, all of which contribute to weight loss (7).

Find more information in our chair exercises for belly fat loss blog.

  • How many days a week should you do chair yoga?

The frequency of your chair yoga practice depends on your individual goals and fitness level. For general well-being and to see noticeable benefits, you should aim to practice chair yoga at least 3-4 times a week. 

However, if you want to see more significant improvements in flexibility, strength, and stress reduction, you should practice daily. It’s essential to listen to your body and avoid overdoing it, ensuring you allow adequate rest and recovery time.

  • How many calories does 30 minutes of chair yoga burn?

The number of calories burned during 30 minutes of chair yoga can vary depending on the intensity of the practice and individual factors such as age, weight, and fitness level. On average, a 30-minute session of chair yoga will burn approximately 75-150 calories (2). 

While this may seem modest in comparison to higher-intensity workouts, the holistic benefits of yoga, including improved flexibility, strength, mental clarity, and reduced stress (3), contribute to overall health and can support long-term weight management when combined with other healthy habits (7).

The Bottom Line

Chair yoga is an accessible and effective way to improve core strength, flexibility, and overall well-being. With regular practice and modifications to suit your needs, you can reap the benefits of this gentle form of exercise. The exercises in this 21-day guide are a great starting point for beginners, but always remember to listen to your body and make modifications as necessary.

DISCLAIMER:

This article is intended for general informational purposes only and does not address individual circumstances. It is not a substitute for professional advice or help and should not be relied on to make decisions of any kind. Any action you take upon the information presented in this article is strictly at your own risk and responsibility!

SOURCES:

  1. Aerobic exercise alone results in clinically significant weight loss for men and women (2013,nih.gov)
  2. Calories Burned Calculator (n,d,calculator.net)
  3. Chair Yoga (n,d,salisbury.sa.gov.au)
  4. Effect of Chair Yoga Therapy on Functional Fitness and Daily Life Activities among Older Female Adults with Knee Osteoarthritis in Taiwan: A Quasi-Experimental Study (2023,nih.gov)
  5. Increasing muscle mass to improve metabolism (2013,nih.gov)
  6. Optimal Diet Strategies for Weight Loss and Weight Loss Maintenance (2021,nih.gov)
  7. Role of Physical Activity for Weight Loss and Weight Maintenance (2017,nih.gov)
  8. The real-world benefits of strengthening your core (2012,harvard.edu)
  9. What Is Chair Yoga & What Are Its Benefits (n,d,ymcawhittier.org)