Verified on 19/01/2023 by PasseportSanté
Since the beginning of the 20th century and the appropriation by Westerners of yoga, we can see many currents and styles emerging. Today there is something for all tastes and especially for all bodies.
It is on the basis of this principle that chair yoga was developed in the 1980s. It is aimed as much at people with disabilities or reduced mobility, as at sedentary workers who spend their days in front of a screen.
It is inspired by haha yoga thanks to its accessibility to the greatest number, its slow rhythm, its postures held for a long time and its breathing work. But it also borrows some elements from Iyengar yogaof which one of the key accessories, to adapt to the rigorous postures of this current, is none other than a chair.
The benefits of chair yoga
Just like classic yoga, chair yoga offers many physical and mental health benefits. It allows to :
- Tone the body with simple and engaging postures;
- Regain mobility, especially in the back, the work on the self-growth of the spine being one of the pillars of the practice of hatha that we find in chair yoga;
- Improve your flexibility and therefore your physical and emotional well-being;
- Expel muscle and joint tension through stretching and back twisting;
- Develop better body awareness and thus regain possession of your body to better live with it on a daily basis;
- Find a better support and a better posture, which will have consequences on the tensions and pains that one can feel, here again, in the small daily gestures;
- Reduce stress through breathing and meditation;
- Boost productivity in the company by offering a short break and perspective in the middle of your working day, to then start again better;
- Increase self-confidence, in particular by performing postures that you did not think you were capable of;
- Restore a taste for sport and movement to create a healthy routine.
Who is chair yoga for?
Chair yoga is often reduced to a practice intended only for seniors. It is true that this public is ideal, but it is far from being the only one!
People with reduced mobility, as well as those suffering from various injuries, who are recovering or who are overweight, can also practice chair yoga. The postures are adapted and adaptable to the reality of each.
Chair yoga is also recommended for sedentary workers who sit in front of a computer for long hours every day. And in the same way to college, high school and university students. It is a question of counterbalancing the seated and static position by movement and stretching for an immediate feeling of well-being, to avoid blockages or back pain and to improve blood circulation.
Finally, pregnant women can also try it, because the chair allows them to keep a good balance in standing postures, even when the center of gravity changes with the size of the belly, when weight gain weakens muscles and joints, and when you get out of breath quickly.
Yoga, whether on a chair or not, is also known to help maintain a good hormonal balance, which is not an easy task during pregnancy!
In short, everyone can benefit from knowing some chair yoga postures and including them in their daily routine.
Almost no equipment is required, apart from a chair. If you have a choice, choose:
- A chair with two crosspieces to ensure its stability;
- Rubber feet or fitted with non-slip pads. If necessary, try to wedge the chair, for example against a wall, to prevent it from slipping away during the postures;
- A chair preferably without an armrest;
- A room with enough space to go roughly around the chair;
- A chair with adjustable height so as to have the knees at 90° or slightly more and the feet flat, well anchored in the ground;
- A yoga brick, cushion or even a stack of books to elevate your feet (and therefore your knees). You will naturally stand straighter this way;
- A comfortable outfit. Sportswear is not required, but you should be able to move and stretch freely, without feeling compressed or stuck.
Your session does not need to be long to feel the benefits, provided you practice regularly. Ten to fifteen minutes a day can already have an impact on your well-being and on physical and mental tension. You can also multiply small sessions of five to ten minutes several times a day, when the need arises.
As for the place of practice, whether in a yoga studio, at home, at the office or at school, the ideal is to choose a quiet place, where you feel good and where you can relax. without being interrupted.
5 chair yoga poses to try
If you want to discover chair yoga, here are some postures accessible to beginners:
Start in a seated position on your chair, knees at pelvis height, back straight and feet flat on the floor.
On the inhale, lengthen your spine a little more toward the ceiling, on the exhale turn both shoulders and ribs to the right.
Place your left hand on the outside of your right thigh to help you pivot further as you pull toward you.
You can do five to ten reps on each side, remembering to stretch your back on each inhale and turn your chest a little further on each exhale.
You can look back over the shoulder if you don’t have any particular neck pain.
As for the previous posture, start in a seated position on your chair, knees at the height of the pelvis, your back straight and your feet flat on the ground.
Rest the right ankle on the left knee or thigh and let the right knee drop toward the floor so that the hip gradually opens.
To add a stretch to the leg (and especially the glutes on which we sit for long hours every day!), bring the bust closer to your legs using the exhale.
Try to keep your back straight and take deep breaths at least five to ten times on each side.
3/ Forward bend with backrest
Standing behind your chair, place both hands on the top of the backrest.
Extend your arms and pull your pelvis back to let your chest drop towards the floor.
On each exhalation, you try to relax the bust down a little more, while keeping your arms and legs straight.
You should feel a stretch in your shoulders, back, and back of your legs. You can chain at least ten breaths in this posture.
4/ The tree
Standing on the side of the chair, rest your left hand on the backrest to keep yourself balanced and your right hand on your hip.
Then place the sole of the right foot against the malleolus, against the calf or inside the thigh (avoid the knee so as not to put unnecessary pressure on the joint).
Fix a motionless in front of you to keep the concentration. Breathe five to ten times on each side. If you are comfortable, do not hesitate to play with the posture by stretching your arms towards the sky for example.
5/ Plank or inverted table
Sitting on the edge of your chair with your back straight and shoulders open to the back, place your hands flat on the seat of the chair behind you, fingers pointing forward. The legs can be bent at 90° or, for more difficulty, stretched forward with the feet flat.
On a deep breath, lift the pelvis towards the ceiling while pushing into your hands. This is a powerful stretch and strengthening of the entire front of the body, arms, shoulders and thighs.
If you choose the bent-knee option, make sure they don’t go past your ankles as you raise the pelvis. Take one or two breaths and come down on the exhale by bringing the navel closer to the spine. Repeat the exercise five times.
In general, remember that chair yoga is primarily intended to give you more mobility and well-being in your body. Many other small exercises can be incorporated into your daily life without making the routine too heavy.
Think, for example, of regularly doing circles with the head and shoulders to relax the upper back and the neck. Also think about breathing, it is at the heart of any yoga practice. There are different techniques called pranayama all of which have particular benefits depending on what you are looking for. Chair yoga is above all a practice that adapts to you and your needs.
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Chair yoga: how to practice it and why?
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