Chair Yoga: The Best Way To Practice When Ill, Injured, Or At Work

Written by Stacie Dooreck

Have you said or heard this: "I can't do yoga until I feel better or can get to yoga class"? Injury or illness, age or other perceived limitations (including working all day at your desk) may prevent you from getting on the floor or standing to do certain yoga poses as you know them.

However, with some creativity and modifications you can ALWAYS practice yoga. "If you can breathe, you can do yoga," says Krishnamacharya.

Sitting as tall as you can while remaining relaxed is the key to many meditation postures and breathing exercises (pranayama). That's a great place to begin. If you can't do any physical asana you can always observe your breath as it is or do some basic breathing exercises. Inhale slowly for three counts, exhale for three, then work up to four counts and beyond. You can also recite a mantra, such as, "I AM," as you inhale. Mantras calm and help focus the mind.

There are chair yoga versions of most postures to increase mobility, vitality and flexibility: sun salutation, forward bends, back bends, spinal twists, sitting mountain pose, eye exercises (helps computer strain) and breathing exercises (calms or energizes and increases concentration). If there aren't modifications for poses you enjoy, you can create your own. Some movement is almost always better than no movement.

At your desk, in a wheelchair, or wherever you are sitting now, take a two-minute yoga break to revitalize yourself! Try it: inhale, lift your arms up overhead, exhale and lower. Repeat 5-10 times and see how you feel. I've seen great shifts in posture and energy from my senior home chair yoga classes using poses like the ones suggested above.

There are also chair yoga classes at local studios and senior centers that involve standing postures using a chair for support, but there is plenty of yoga you can do without getting up or down from the chair if you're not able.

Yoga IS for everyone! So stay seated and do yoga today! Inhale sit tall, exhale relax!

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