Chair yoga is pretty much exactly what it sounds like – the practice of yoga with a chair.
It is a gentle yoga practice that aims to improve strength, flexibility, and body awareness just like most other western yoga practices. Classes can also include breathing techniques (pranayama) to help energize or calm the body and meditation to focus and settle the mind.
Similar to bolsters, bands, and blankets, a sturdy chair can act as a prop so the individual can engage in a safe and meaningful yoga practice. Poses, postures, and movements are done either seated or by using the chair as a stabilizer for balance or to deepen a pose. Almost any yoga pose can be adapted into a seated posture and modified further to meet the need of the practicing individual.
For example, mountain pose (a standing posture) in a chair is achieved by firmly pressing both feet into the ground, knees bent at 90 degrees, a tall and long spine, and both arms reaching straight overhead. This mimics the appearance of the traditional standing pose but allows the individual to be stabilized by the support of the chair, reducing risk of falling.
The recommended chair used in chair yoga should be stable (so no wheels), have a wide seat, no armrests, and be as lightly cushioned as possible. The firmness of the seat is what gives a better sense of balance and stability to the practice and the wide seat and lack of armrests make it so wide poses like Warrior One or Two can be used.
Just like any exercise or physical activity, it is advised to speak to your doctor to make sure that chair yoga is a safe and appropriate fit for you! Physical or Occupational Therapists may also be able to provide insight on the appropriateness of this practice.
Who is Chair Yoga Good for?
Chair yoga is a great option for older adults, adults, teens, or kids that are unable or disinterested in engaging in a floor practice of yoga. This could be due to physical limitation, injuries, skill level, or even personal preference.
Chair yoga can be especially helpful for those who aren’t able to stand for long periods of time or rely on mobility assistive device like a cane or walker. Issues with balance or vision are another reason to give chair yoga a try over other techniques.
What are the Benefits of Chair Yoga?
The potential benefits of a consistent chair yoga practice are very similar if not exact to those of other yoga practices. This is because most classes mimic those of other yoga practices, focusing on the same muscles, poses, breathing, and mindfulness.
The physical benefits include improved balance, flexibility, range of motion, and coordination. Social-emotional benefits include helping reduce anxiety, depressive symptoms, and stress.
Chair Yoga with Us at Unalome Lotus
Our chair yoga classes are unique in that they are tailored specifically for stroke, traumatic brain injury, and limited mobility.
What does that mean?
It means we use evidence-based research, hands on experience, and professional field training to inform all of our class materials and practices. Movements and poses are often cued to be inclusive for individuals with one side weakness or paralysis. This means we use both passive and active exercises, elements that can foster neuroplasticity (the brain’s ability to rewire itself after an injury).
The instructor is available outside of the classroom hours to help members with questions, concerns, or just to talk yoga and brain injuries in general! This personalized experience makes it possible to engage in this holistic practice regardless of physical limitations.
Call 720.505.4015 or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org to learn more or to sign up for classes!