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Please Remain Seated

Practice Yoga in a Chair

Have you heard someone say this? "I can't do yoga until I feel better (or can get to yoga class)." Injury or illness, age or other limitations (including working all day at your desk) may prevent you from getting on a yoga mat on the floor or into a standing position to do certain postures. However, with some creativity and modifications you can almost always do yoga. "If you can breathe you can do yoga," says Krishnamacharya.

Maintaining a straight spine while in a relaxed posture is the key to many meditation postures and breathing exercises, so sitting tall in a chair is a great place to begin. If you can't do any physical asana (posture) you can always observe your breath (try inhaling slowly for three counts, then exhaling for three counts, working up to longer breaths.)

You can adapt chair yoga versions of many yoga postures to increase mobility, vitality and flexibility, including sun salutation, forward bends, back bends, spinal twists, sitting mountain pose, eye exercises (relieves computer strain) and breathing exercises to calm or energize yourself at work and to increase concentration.

At your desk, in a wheelchair, or wherever you are sitting now, take a two-minute re-energizing yoga break. Inhale as you lift your arms up over your head, then exhale as you lower them back down. Repeat 5-10 times and see how you feel. A wonderful Basic Spinal Energy Series taught by Yogi Bhajan can be done from a chair. I've seen great shifts in posture and energy from my senior citizen chair yoga classes practicing this yoga kriya.

Many yoga studios and senior centers offer chair yoga classes that involve standing postures using a chair for support, but there is plenty of yoga you can do without getting up or down from a chair. (Try the accompanying basic sequence of gentle chair yoga.) Yoga is for everyone…so go ahead and stay seated and do some chair yoga. You can sit tall, breathe and enjoy the benefits right now.

Stacie Dooreck
Certified Gentle Integral and Chair Yoga Instructor
Recommended Read: Yoga for the Young at Heart by Susan Ward

Chair Yoga Series Chair Yoga Series (49 KB)

Basic Spinal Series Basic Spinal Series (235 KB)


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