Blog Mental Health Yoga Chair Yoga: Why And How To Get The Benefits Of Seated Exercise

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

The benefits of yoga are well documented; it can improve your flexibility, strength, and balance while also reducing stress and anxiety (2). But for people with certain medical conditions or physical limitations, getting down on a mat can be difficult, if not impossible. That’s where chair yoga comes in. Chair yoga is a gentle form of yoga that is practiced while seated in a chair or using a chair for support. It’s perfect for beginners or anyone who wants to take a more gentle approach to yoga. Read on as we explore everything there is to know about chair yoga, including who can benefit, the different types of chair yoga, and some beginner-friendly poses to get you started.

BetterMe

Why Practice Chair Yoga?

Most traditional yoga poses require you to get down on the ground and move through several positions. Even standing poses require a certain degree of balance and flexibility.

 But what if you can’t or don’t want to get down on the floor, or stand for long periods of time? Chair yoga is a great solution for those who want to experience the benefits of yoga but may have trouble with some of the more traditional poses.

Almost anyone can benefit from practicing chair yoga. It’s a low-impact form of exercise that is easy on the joints and perfect for people of all ages and fitness levels. That being said, chair yoga is especially beneficial for those with the following conditions:

  • Arthritis
  • Joint pain or stiffness
  • Poor balance
  • High blood pressure
  • Heart conditions
  • Chronic pain
  • Limited mobility or range of motion

It’s also a great way for beginners to ease into yoga without feeling overwhelmed. Additionally, chair yoga can be practiced almost anywhere – at home, in the office, or even in a waiting room or airport. All you need is a chair and some open space, and you’re ready to go. 

This gentle and more accessible variation of the ancient practice allows you to take advantage of the benefits of yoga, including:

See also
Upper Spine Stretches: How To Relieve Upper Back Pain And Stiffness

Increased Flexibility

Being able to bend, stretch, and twist with ease is not only satisfying, but it can also help improve your range of motion (2), making everyday activities – like reaching for a higher shelf or tying your shoes – easier. 

A common misconception is that with age, you inevitably lose flexibility. But the truth is that you can maintain your flexibility (or even increase it) with regular practice, no matter your age.

chair yoga

Improved Strength

While yoga is often associated with relaxation, many poses actually require a fair amount of strength and stability. In fact, research has shown that yoga can help increase muscle strength and endurance. While it may not be as intense as lifting weights at the gym, chair yoga can help to tone your muscles and improve your overall strength (1).

Improved Proprioception

Proprioception is your body’s ability to sense movement and position. It’s what allows you to know where your limbs are without having to look at them.

Poor proprioception can lead to falls and other accidents. Chair yoga can help improve proprioception by helping you become more aware of your body and how it moves through space (3).

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

Reduced Stress And Anxiety

Yoga, in general, is a great way to manage stress and anxiety. But if the thought of downward-facing dog or crow pose is enough to send your stress levels through the roof, chair yoga may be a better option for you. The slow, gentle movements and deep breathing that are characteristic of chair yoga can help to calm the mind and reduce stress (1).

Improved Circulation

One of the many benefits of yoga is that it can help improve circulation. When you practice yoga, your muscles contract and then release, which helps to move blood through your body. This is especially beneficial for people who sit for long periods of time, as it can help to counteract the negative effects of sitting (2).

See also
Sofa Yoga For Seniors Who Have Limited Mobility

Improved Pain Management

If you suffer from chronic pain, yoga – including chair yoga – may help to alleviate some of your symptoms (1). One study showed that people with chronic low back pain who practiced yoga had significantly less pain than those who didn’t practice yoga. Other research has shown that yoga can also help to reduce the intensity of headaches.

chair yoga

Better Sleep

If you have trouble sleeping, chair yoga may be able to help. One study found that people who practiced yoga before bed fell asleep faster and slept more soundly than those who didn’t practice yoga (1).

Additionally, several poses that can be done in a chair – like forward bends and twists – are especially calming and can help to quiet the mind and prepare the body for sleep. 

Improved Digestion

Certain yoga poses – like twists and forward bends – can help to stimulate the digestive system and promote bowel regularity (2). If you’re struggling with constipation, incorporating some chair yoga poses into your daily routine may help get things moving.

You can find more Chair Yoga exercises in a convenient format in our application. Download the app on Google Play or Apple Store and dive into healing chair yoga poses now.

How To Get Started With Chair Yoga

If you’re new to yoga, or if you’re looking for a more gentle and accessible form of exercise, chair yoga may be perfect for you. Here are a few tips to get started:

1. Find A Sturdy Chair

When choosing a chair for your practice, it’s important to find one that is sturdy and stable. A kitchen chair or dining room chair is usually a good option. Avoid using a folding chair or an office chair with wheels, as these can be unstable and may cause you to fall. 

2. Create A Firm Foundation

Before you begin your practice, it’s important to create a firm foundation. Place your feet flat on the ground, about hip-width apart. Sit up tall with a long spine, and relax your shoulders away from your ears. You may want to place a blanket or towel under your feet for added comfort.

See also
Yoga Poses For Hips: Giving Your Lower Body A Good Stretch!

chair yoga

3. Breathe Deeply

Breathing is an important part of any yoga practice, but it’s especially important in chair yoga. Be sure to take deep, full breaths throughout your practice. This will help you to relax and focus on the present moment.

4. Listen To Your Body

When you’re practicing yoga – or any type of exercise – it’s important to listen to your body and go at your own pace. If a pose feels too challenging, or if you’re in pain, be sure to modify or skip the pose entirely. 

There’s no shame in taking a break, and your yoga practice should be something that feels good, not something that causes pain.

5. Use Guided Routines In The BetterMe App

Winging it can be tough – especially if you’re new to yoga. That’s why it can be helpful to follow a guided routine, such as from the BetterMe app. 

This will help you to learn the basic poses and get a feel for how they should look and feel. Once you’re more comfortable, you can start to experiment with different sequences and poses.

Read More: Chair Yoga Poses To Help You De-Stress

BetterMe

Which Chair Yoga Poses Are Right For You?

If you’re new to yoga, or if you’re looking for a more gentle practice, try starting with some basic chair yoga poses.

The BetterMe app contains, among other exercises routine, an extensive chair yoga guide with poses demonstrated.The chair yoga workouts range from beginner to advanced, with full body strength, mobility, and other different categories to meet your needs.

Here’s a sneak peek at a few of the yoga poses you’ll find in the app:

1. Seated Mountain Pose

Seated mountain pose is a great way to start your practice, as it helps to ground you and prepare your body for the poses to come. To do this pose:

  1. Sit up tall in your chair with your feet flat on the ground.
  2. Relax your shoulders and allow your hands to rest comfortably in your lap.
  3. Take a few deep breaths, and then gently begin to straighten your spine.
  4. As you inhale, lift your chin slightly and lengthen your neck.
  5. As you exhale, draw your navel towards your spine to lengthen your lower back.
  6. Repeat this sequence for a few breaths.
See also
Hot Yoga Weight Loss: Become The Fittest, Leanest, And Strongest Version Of Yourself

2. Seated Forward Bend

Seated forward bend is a great way to stretch out the back and shoulders. It’s also a calming pose that can help to quiet the mind. To do this pose:

  1. Sit up tall in your chair with your feet flat on the ground.
  2. Relax your shoulders and allow your hands to rest comfortably in your lap.
  3. As you inhale, lift your chin slightly and lengthen your neck.
  4. As you exhale, hinge forward from your hips, keeping a long spine.
  5. Once you’ve reached your max range of motion, place your hands on your legs and hold for a few breaths.
  6. To release the pose, slowly roll up to seated, vertebrae by vertebrae.

3. Seated Cat-Cow Pose

Seated cat-cow is a great way to loosen up the spine and release tension in the back. It’s also a gentle way to warm up the body before doing more challenging poses. To do this pose:

  1. Sit up tall in your chair with your feet flat on the ground.
  2. Relax your shoulders and allow your hands to rest comfortably on your thighs.
  3. As you inhale, drop your belly and lift your chin, looking up towards the ceiling.
  4. As you exhale, round your spine and tuck your chin towards your chest.
  5. Repeat this sequence for a few rounds of breath.

chair yoga

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

See also
Tabata Yoga: This Hardcore Workout Will Have You Sweating Up A Storm Within Minutes

4. Seated Knee-To-Chest Pose

Seated knee-to-chest is a great way to stretch out the lower back and release tension in the hips. To do this pose:

  1. Sit up tall in your chair with your feet flat on the ground.
  2. Relax your shoulders and allow your hands to rest comfortably in your lap.
  3. As you inhale, lift your right knee towards your chest.
  4. Grab onto your right shin with both hands and gently pull it in closer.
  5. Hold for a few breaths, and then release the pose and repeat on the other side.

5. Seated Twist Pose

Seated twist is a great way to stretch out the spine and release tension in the shoulders. It’s also a pose that can help to improve digestion. To do this pose:

  1. Sit up tall in your chair with your feet flat on the ground.
  2. Relax your shoulders and allow your hands to rest comfortably in your lap.
  3. As you inhale, lift your right arm up and over to the left side of your body.
  4. As you exhale, twist your torso to the left, looking over your left shoulder.
  5. Hold for a few breaths, and then release the pose and repeat on the other side.

When you’re ready to end your practice, take a few moments to sit in silence and observe your breath. Notice how your body feels after practicing yoga, and see if you can carry that sense of calm and ease with you throughout the rest of your day.

chair yoga

The Bottom Line

Chair yoga is a great way to get the benefits of yoga without having to get down on the floor. It’s also a great option for people who have limited mobility. Yoga can help improve flexibility, strength, and balance.

It’s also a great way to reduce stress and promote relaxation. If you’re new to yoga, chair yoga is a great place to start. These five poses will give you a taste of what chair yoga has to offer.

BetterMe

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)
  3. Yoga Meditation Enhances Proprioception and Balance in Individuals Diagnosed With Parkinson’s Disease (2021, nih.gov)
Get started