Chair Yoga Exercises

Persons with physical challenges that limit their mobility and flexibility often find chair yoga less stressful on their joints and muscles. Even avid yoga practitioners can use chair poses to deepen twists that keep the spine and upper torso muscles supple and well-lubricated. “Yoga & Pilates for Everyone” offers gentle sequences for every level of ability.

Seated Twist

Begin by sitting in a hard-back chair, ideally without arms. Scoot forward on the chair a bit, until your buttocks rest almost at the edge of the chair. Keeping your legs at a 90-degree angle and your feet flat on the floor, twist your torso to the right or left side, whichever you prefer. Grab the back of the chair with the hand closest to it, and pull your body as deep into the twist as possible. Hold this static stretch for a slow count of 30. Slowly release the stretch and twist your body back to the front, Take a few deep breaths and repeat on the opposite side. Repeat the sequence once.

Half Plow Pose

Half plow pose stems from the plow pose, which tends to put a strain on the neck. In the half plow pose, a chair, used to support the weight of the legs, lessens the risk of injury and strain to the cervical spine. A four-legged chair without cross supports works best for this pose. Put the chair in the middle of the yoga or other nonskid surface. Lie face up on the floor with your head under the chair. If the chair has a back, you must lie on the side of the chair because you will lift your legs up onto it. Once your head is under the chair, bend your knees and slowly roll your torso up until the tops of your thighs (quadriceps) rest against the chair. Allow your legs to straighten, and roll your torso further up until your quadriceps are flat against the seat of the chair. Your back will form a 90-degree angle to the floor, and your thighs will be parallel to the floor. Work up to holding this pose for a count of 30. Come out of the pose slowly, and rest on the floor before getting up as you may be slightly dizzy until accustomed to the pose.

Camel Pose

With this modified camel pose, the thighs and abdominal muscles still benefit from a nice deep stretch, but the back doesn’t feel the strain of the traditional camel. Place a thick folded blanket over the back of the chair and two plump pillows on the seat of the chair. Kneel down on the mat with your back to the chair. Back up against the chair until your calves are under the chair; leave a couple of inches between your buttocks and the seat of the chair. Reach behind you, and grasp the upper part of the chair leg. Slowly lean back, and allow the chair to absorb the weight of your torso and head. Work up to holding this pose for a slow count of 30 as well.

About this Author

Gloria Attar has been a professional writer since 1983. Her work has appeared in “A Distinctive Style,” “The Rambler” and “Chocolate for a Woman’s Dreams.” She specializes in health care, wellness and relationship topics. Attar obtained her B.S.N. from Kent State University.