Blog Mental Health Yoga Chair Yoga Benefits: 8 Reasons Why You Should Do Seated Exercises

Chair Yoga Benefits: 8 Reasons Why You Should Do Seated Exercises

When the average person thinks of yoga, they think of people contorting their bodies into all sorts of pretzel-like shapes in picturesque locations. All they see is a series of complicated poses that require immense flexibility and strength – something that they could never do. What they often don’t realize is that yoga is so much more than that. It’s not just about the physical poses; it’s about connecting the body, mind, and breath to achieve balance and harmony. And you don’t need to be flexible or strong to start doing yoga. In fact, there’s a type of yoga that’s perfect for people who lack flexibility and strength: chair yoga. Also called seated yoga, chair yoga is a gentle form of the practice that can be done by anyone, regardless of their fitness level. The poses are modified to have a similar effect as their traditional counterparts, but they’re done while seated on a chair or using a chair for support.

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Here are eight reasons why chair yoga might just be the best type of yoga for you:

1. It’s Perfect For Beginners

The most important aspect of yoga that beginners need to focus on is the breath. Once you learn how to control and connect your breath with the movement of your body, everything else will fall into place. 

Chair yoga is the perfect way to learn how to do this without feeling overwhelmed by all the other aspects of yoga.Furthermore, learning sequencing in a chair will give you a better understanding of how poses flow together in a traditional yoga class.

2. It’s More Accessible

Accessibility refers to the ability of everyone to participate in an activity, regardless of their physical abilities. Chair yoga helps make yoga more accessible because it can be done by people who have mobility issues.

See also
Why And How You Should Use Yoga Blocks In Your Practice

More specifically, chair yoga is perfect for people who:

  • Have trouble standing for long periods of time
  • Have difficulty balancing
  • Suffer from back pain
  • Experience joint pain
  • Feel stiff in the morning
  • Have limited range of motion

3. It’s Low Impact

Generally, yoga is a low-impact activity (2). However, there are some poses that can be difficult for people with joint pain or other mobility issues. Chair yoga eliminates these poses and replaces them with alternatives that are gentle on the body.

For example, instead of doing a standing forward bend (uttanasana), which can be difficult for people with back pain, you can do a seated forward bend (paschimottanasana). This pose is just as effective at stretching the hamstrings, but it doesn’t put any strain on the back.

Read More: Chair Yoga: Why And How To Get The Benefits Of Seated Exercise

chair yoga benefits

4. It Improves Muscle Tone

Just like any other type of yoga, chair yoga can help to tone your muscles. The key is to use proper form and focus on the muscle group you’re working on. Poses such as chair twists and arm balances are especially effective at toning the core and upper body (1).

5. It Increases Flexibility

One of the most common misconceptions about yoga is that you need to be flexible to do it. This couldn’t be further from the truth! Rather, yoga can help increase your flexibility (1).

Chair yoga is a great way to increase your flexibility because the poses are designed to slowly open up the body. For example, in a traditional yoga class, you might do a standing forward bend (uttanasana). This pose is quite difficult for people who are not flexible.

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Yoga For Kids: 10 Fun And Easy Poses

However, in chair yoga, you would do a variation of this pose that’s much easier, such as a seated forward bend (paschimottanasana). Over time, as you build up your flexibility, you can progress to the traditional yoga poses.

6. It Reduces Stress

Like all types of yoga, chair yoga can help to reduce stress by promoting relaxation. The deep breathing and focus on the present moment help to quiet the mind and ease anxiety.Additionally, the gentle stretching releases tension from the muscles, which further contributes to relaxation (2).

7. It Improves Balance

One of the most important functions of yoga is to improve balance. This is especially important as we age, as poor balance can lead to falls and injuries.

Chair yoga is an excellent way to improve balance because it forces you to engage your core muscles to stay stabilized in the chair. Additionally, poses such as chair twists help improve proprioception, which is the ability to sense where your body is in space. This is a key component of balance (1).

8. It Improves Your Sleep Quality

Vigorous exercise is not recommended before bed because it can cause insomnia. However, gentle exercises such as chair yoga can actually improve your sleep quality (2).

This is likely due to the fact that chair yoga helps reduce stress and promote relaxation. When you’re less stressed, you’re more likely to fall asleep easily and stay asleep through the night.

Do a relaxing chair yoga without leaving your home on the BetterMe app. Tailor your yoga journey and maximize the results now.

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How To Structure A Chair Yoga Workout

Now that you know the many benefits of chair yoga, you might be wondering how to structure a class. Here’s a general outline (inspired by the Simple Flow chair yoga workout in the BetterMe app):

See also
Should You Do Chair Yoga Every Day?

1. Warm-Up

Start with some gentle movements to warm up the body. This step is necessary to get blood flowing and prepare the muscles for stretching. Perform each exercise for 20 seconds for a total of 5 minutes. Below are some examples of exercises you can do:

  • Neck rolls: Slowly roll your head from side to side. These should be gentle and slow, not jerky.
  • Shoulder rolls: Slowly roll your shoulders up, back, and down. Breathe deeply as you do this to increase mobility in the shoulders.
  • Arm circles: Raise your arms out to the sides and make small circles. You can make them larger as you get warmed up.
  • Hip mobility: Open up the hips with some gentle side-to-side and front-to-back movements.
  • Ankle and foot circles: Move your ankles and feet in small circles to loosen them up.

2. Main Sequence

After the warm-up, it’s time to move into the main sequence. This is where you’ll do the bulk of the stretching and strengthening. Perform each exercise for 30 seconds to 1 minute.

Seated Forward Bend

  1. Sit up tall with a straight spine.
  2. Extend your legs out in front of you with your feet together.
  3. Reach your arms overhead and then fold forward from the hips, keeping your spine long.
  4. You can place your hands on your knees, shins, or ankles. If you can’t reach your feet, grab a strap or towel and loop it around your feet.

Seated Upper-Body Stretch

  1. Sit up tall with a straight spine and your shoulders down and away from your ears.
  2. Extend your right arm overhead while your left arm rests on your left knee.
  3. Lean to the right, reaching your right arm overhead and your left arm down your left leg.
  4. Switch sides and repeat.
See also
Easy Yoga Challenge Poses For Beginners

chair yoga benefits

Seated Knee To Chest

  1. Sit up tall with a straight spine and your shoulders down and away from your ears.
  2. Extend your legs out in front of you with your feet together.
  3. Bend your right knee and bring it in towards your chest, placing your right hand on your shin.
  4. Switch sides and repeat.

Seated Hero Pose

  1. Sit up tall with a straight spine on the edge of your chair.
  2. Place your feet flat on the ground hip-width apart.
  3. Slide your hands down your shins and place them under your knees.
  4. Lift your hips off the chair and bring your chest towards your thighs. If you can, place your forehead on your thighs.

Read More: Chair Yoga For Seniors: 10 Poses To Improve Strength, Flexibility, And Balance

3. Cool-Down

After the main sequence, it’s time to cool down with some gentle stretching. Perform each exercise for 20 seconds. Repeat the warm up sequence.

4. Savasana

End your practice with savasana, also known as corpse pose. This is a restorative pose that allows your body to fully relax.

To do this:

  1. simply sit in your chair with your feet flat on the ground and your hands resting in your lap. 
  2. Close your eyes and take slow, deep breaths. Let your whole body sink into the chair and relax. 
  3. Stay here for 1-5 minutes.
  4. When you’re finished, slowly open your eyes and sit up tall. Take a few deep breaths and notice how you feel.

BetterMe will provide you with healing and rejuvenating yoga exercises for beginners. Download the app on the Apple Store or Google Play, and enjoy magical results now.

See also
Sofa Yoga For Seniors Who Have Limited Mobility

chair yoga benefits

Tips For Beginners Who Want To Try Chair Yoga

If you’re interested in trying chair yoga, there are a few things you should keep in mind:

Work With A Qualified Instructor

Chair yoga is a gentle form of yoga, but it’s still important to work with a qualified instructor who can teach you the proper form for each pose. This will help you avoid injuries and get the most out of the poses.

Alternatively, check out the BetterMe app, which offers a variety of chair yoga classes that you can do from the comfort of your own home.

Start Slow

As with any new exercise routine, it’s important to start slow and gradually build up your strength and flexibility. Don’t try to do too much too soon. Start with a few simple poses and add more as you feel comfortable.

Listen To Your Body

Yoga is all about listening to your body and respecting your limits. If a pose feels too difficult or causes pain, don’t force it. There’s always a modification that you can do.

The BetterMe chair yoga classes offer variations for all levels, so you can always find a pose that’s right for you. Plus, the guided classes make it easy to follow along.

Breath Work Is Key

Breath work is an essential part of yoga. Make sure to focus on your breath and take deep, slow breaths throughout the class. This will help you relax and get the most out of the poses.

The Bottom Line

Chair yoga offers a wide range of benefits, including increased flexibility, stress reduction, improved balance, and better sleep. If you’re interested in trying chair yoga, work with a qualified instructor and start slow. Most importantly, focus on your breath and listen to your body.

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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. 9 Benefits of Yoga (n.d., hopkinsmedicine.org)
  2. Exploring the therapeutic effects of yoga and its ability to increase quality of life (2011, nih.gov)
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