The average adult spends 60-75% of their waking hours seated. Chair yoga, that uses the chair as a prop for yoga, is the perfect solution for getting a workout daily without getting up from the chair.
Most of us spend too much time sitting, and this has increased exponentially since working from home started during the pandemic. This sedentary lifestyle can cause serious harm to our bodies in the long run. Chair yoga modifies traditional yoga asanas into easy poses that can be done while seated.
Chair Yoga is suitable for people who are new to yoga, confined to a desk at work, or unable to execute traditional yoga poses because of aging, injury or disability. Yoga therapist Shammi Gupta says, “It helps greatly with psychosomatic problems like frozen shoulders, back pain, sluggish hamstrings, cervical spondylosis, and issues related with respiration and digestion.”
Gupta advises taking ten minutes out of your daily life to do this simple Chair yoga flow twice a day. The poses are divided into three different segments, Chair Cardio, Chair Strength Building and Chest Opening. These postures will enhance your oxygen intake, and ease any nagging aches and pain of your body.
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Chair Cardio with Surya Namaskar
This is a simple way of performing the traditional surya namaskar on the chair itself. Acting as a cardiovascular exercise, it helps in releasing tightness in your shoulders, improves breathing capacity and strengthens your core.
Expert Tip: It is important that your feet are resting on the floor. If your feet don’t reach the floor, take the support of a bolster pillow or a yoga block.
● Sit comfortably on the chair, with your back straight.
● Inhale, raise your arms and curve your back over the back of the chair so that your upper back rests on the edge of the chair.
● Arch back as far as you can go.
● While exhaling, bend towards the front over your knees, so that your arms touch the floor.
● Raise your right foot on the chair and wrap your arms around your knee.
● Inhale and raise your neck and head backwards.
● Exhale and bend your head down towards your chest.
Repeat, starting with your left side. Do the flow as quickly as possible for a few times, while alternating your legs for pose 2.
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Strength Building on the Chair
These three yoga poses will help to build up arm, thigh and back strength respectively.
Expert Tip: For safety, place the chair against a wall.
Pose 1: Plank and Push up on Chair
● Place both your hands on the floor, shoulder-width apart. Carefully, place your legs on the seat of the chair. Your shin and knees should be resting on the chair. Stay in the forward fold ‘V’ shape if you are a beginner. Holding this pose builds arm strength.
● If you are comfortable with the above pose, then engage your core to straighten into a plank.
● Look straight. You can make the exercise tougher by performing slow push ups up to the count of 10.
● Gently release the pose.
Pose 2: Squat with Chair
● Sit with your back straight.
● Spread your thighs over the two sides of the chair, resting your feet on the floor.
● Raise your arms above your head and link your hands in a namaste. You may bend your elbows if you want to.
● With your heels firmly pressed on the floor, raise your upper body over the chair and start doing gentle pulse squats.
Pose 3: Virabhadrasana with Chair
● Resuming the position of the squat with the chair, stretch your left leg out straight, while keeping the right foot on the floor. Get the yoga block or a pillow if your right leg does not reach the floor.
● Slowly raise your left arm in an arc over your head, while turning your head and torso to look at the ceiling.
● Hold the pose while breathing deeply for 10 seconds.
● Release, then repeat the same with your other side.
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Chest Opening on the Chair
This pose will help with the strength building of your core and chest, and enhance blood circulation throughout your body.
● To help you with the height, get some pillows or cushions. Place them on the floor in front of the chair, and sit on top of them.
● Raise your hands and arch backwards until your shoulders rest on the chair.
● Stretch your arms over the chair while inhaling deeply and exhaling.
Pose 2: Chair Chakrasana
● Sit sideways on the edge of the chair.
● Bend backwards until your head and shoulders are arched over the other edge, and stretch your arms over your head, legs firmly on the floor, to form a half circular shape with your body.
● Inhale very gently, and slowly raise your head and upper body, until you are in an upright position.
● Place your chair close to a wall.
● Sit sideways on the chair and stack some cushions behind you for support.
● Straighten your legs, pressing the soles of your feet on the wall, and bend backwards over the cushions.
● You can cross your arms over your chest, or raise them over your head to open your chest up further while breathing deeply.
● Then gently raise yourself to a relaxed sitting pose.
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