Posted by on 4/21/2020 to Let's Talk Yoga!
A Reference Guide To The Most Popular Chair Yoga Postures & Poses
When we talk about the evolution of yoga practices, we have to discuss it's versatility. Yoga is a practice that can be tailored to many individual needs. Whether that be using it as strictly a way to improve flexibility, balance and posture, all the way to goals focused more on improving mind-body awareness and peace of mind.
However, we would not be doing yoga justice if we did not mention how you can take a specific style of yoga and modify it's basic asanas to work with our bodies, specifically as we age, recover from injury, or require an even gentler path. Some practitioners may lack mobility, or find it difficult to complete standing yoga poses, so being able to modify certain asanas, due to their similarities in body mechanics is key.
With the right information and adaptability, you to can get involved in modifiable chair yoga postures and poses. Chair yoga makes it not just possible to focus on creativity to help advance your practice in a more gentle arena of yoga, but also makes it possible to incorporate and focus on breathing techniques, paying specific attention to, and not losing track of the importance of pranayama.
Research On Chair Yoga
A major area of focus as we age is on balance and proper body posture to help prevent falls, which can be dangerous, and lead to chronic pain and suffering. According to one study which incorporated chair yoga within an assisted living community among 80-90 year old seniors, chair yoga was found to be not just safe, but feasible. "There is promising effects related to balance and mobility in this population".
Another study published in 2019, found that both chair yoga and chair-based exercises are effective in managing biophysical outcomes for older adults, specifically, that suffer from lower extremity osteoarthritis. Sometimes doing chair yoga isn't just about balance, age or improper body alignment, it may also aid in people who suffer from chronic pain conditions, making standing yoga postures more difficult to complete. Chair yoga may offer a way to reduce pain and improve overall quality of life for this population.
It's not just physical limitation that lead to individuals ability to perform standing yoga or other forms of physical exercise. One randomized control trial study evaluated effectiveness of chair yoga, chair-based exercises and music intervention on individuals suffering from moderate to severe dementia who were unable to participate in regular exercise. Chair yoga was found to be not just safe for stretching, strengthening and flexibility, but also helped incorporate a focus of breathing to help relax muscle groups, thus seemingly improving quality of life in the participants.
Let's now go through an example of a common breathing technique, perfect for chair yoga, as well as some easy to follow chair asanas to get you started!
As we've touched on briefly, is the importance of breathing techniques in yoga, often referred to as pranayama. Ujjayi breathing is often a breathing technique one will find in the practice of yoga. A relatively easy breathing technique that if done right, can enhance your practice, helping to improve concentration and focus when performing asanas.
Ujjayi Breathing or "Fire Breathing" Example Video(s) Below
Simple Chair Yoga Asanas To Get The Blood Flowing!
Cat/Cow Chair Asana (Chair Marjaryasana Bitilasana):
A beginner friendly chair asana, Cat/Cow is a staple in many yoga routines. This can be considered both a forward-bend and back-bend type pose. Cat/Cow is also a great starting asana to then transition to other poses within your chair yoga sequence. Chair Cat/Cow places emphasis on your lower, middle, upper back, as well as your hips, chest and neck region.
1. Begin seated on your chair. Place your hands on your knees, elbows relaxed.
2. Knees should be 90 degrees, feet flat on the floor.
3. Inhale, chest and back coming forward, neck gently back. This is Cow pose.
4. Exhale, roll the spine in the opposite direction, allowing the chest to collapse. Pelvis and back should continue back. Drop the head down, you're now in cat pose.
5 Continue for a cycle of 5 full Cat/Cow transitions.
Cat/Cow Posture Chair Asana!
Cat/Cow Posture On A Yoga Mat
Cat/Cow Yoga Mat
1. Begin on the mat, hands and wrists under your shoulders, knees directly under your hips.
2. Inhale deeply, arch your back, pushing your naval toward the mat, which really helps you stretch and open up your back muscles. Bring your head up and back, gently. Cow Pose.
3. Then, slowly exhale through the spine by pulling in the abdomen and making a curve with your back upward toward the ceiling.
Hip Circles (Upavishta Hip Circles Chair)
This posture can be beneficial in helping to loosen up your hip muscles, requiring you to try and be in control of your spinal movement.
This maneuver simply involves you seated on a chair. Once seated, begin to slowly rotate the spine in circular motions. You can first begin in a clockwise direction for a few rotations and then allow yourself a brief pause, alternating into a counterclockwise movement. This is oftentimes used as a warmup maneuver.
Here Is An Entire Chair Yoga Routine!
Sun Salutation By Arms:
Next we'll move into Sun Salutation done completely in a chair. See Video Below!
This sequence helps in releasing tension that you may have in your back, shoulders as well as your neck.
Eagle Arms Chair Pose (Garudasana)
1. Begin seated on a chair. Inhale, reach your arms out to the side of your body, parallel to the floor, opening up your chest.
2. Exhale, then take your right arm underneath your left in front at the level of your shoulders, bending the elbows, wrapping your elbows, and then your wrists. * If you cannot wrap, simply grab ahold of your shoulders, as if you're giving yourself a hug.
3. Bring your elbows downward, hands away from your face.
4. Hold this pose for 30 seconds to one minute.
These kinds of chair yoga postures can help in releasing shoulder stress/tension as well as working your hands and wrists.
We hope this reference guide to chair poses can be a helpful starting point for those that need a more modified approach to yoga. As always, be sure to share any of your favorite chair poses that may be beneficial to our readers and practicing yogi's.
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