7 Chair Yoga Stretches That Are Perfect For A Midday Movement Break
Yoga is a fantastic form of daily movement, well suited for all different fitness levels, with the help of modifications. Case in point: chair yoga. This type of yoga practice involves poses you can do while seated in a chair—making it accessible for anyone who isn't able to move through standing and supine yoga postures or who has challenges with balance. Chair yoga stretches are also ideal as a midday movement break, particularly for people who work at a desk all day long.
Below, I've compiled seven of my favorite chair yoga stretches—to help you bend, twist, fold, and roll out any pent-up tension in your body. I recommend moving through these exercises at least once a day (or as many times as you'd like), especially if you spend a lot of time behind a computer.
Move through the entire series for a complete movement routine, or just try one or two of the stretches as a short break. Whatever you choose, be sure to breathe deeply, and enjoy!
Instructions: Move from one exercise to the next, following the flow cues as noted.
To start: Sit in a chair, plant your feet firmly onto the ground, and rest your hands on the knees or thighs. Take a few deep breaths. Continue to seated cat-cow.
- From a seated position, inhale as you pull your back toward the back of your chair. Create space in your spine, and keep your shoulders away from your ears.
- As you exhale, release the belly, and open up the chest.
- Repeat two more times. Continue to side stretch.
Seated Side Stretch
- From a seated position, bring your right hand high up overhead. You can use your left hand as support on the chair arm or your leg.
- Inhale as you stretch your arm as high up as you can, then exhale as you slowly lean over as far as you can to your left. Look up toward your hand if you can.
- Hold for three breaths. Repeat on the other side. Then continue to seated twist.
- From a seated position, come to the edge of your chair.
- Place your right hand behind you. Bring your left hand to the outside of the right thigh, to help enhance the twist.
- Twist your body to the right, bringing your gaze behind your body (or to your side, if this is too intense). With each breath, try to twist a little farther. (Note: This is great after a lunch break, to help promote digestion.)
- Hold for a few breaths, then repeat on the opposite side. Continue to seated figure-4 stretch.
Seated Figure-4 Stretch
- From a seated position, bring your right ankle up to your left thigh.
- I like to lift up my left toes and gently press my hand onto my right knee to enhance the hip stretch.
- Breathe in, then slowly fold the torso forward as far as you can over the right shin as you exhale.
- Hold for a few breaths, and repeat on the left side. Then continue to seated forward fold.
Seated Forward Fold
- From a seated position, come to the edge of your seat, and stretch your legs out in front of you.
- Inhale as you lift your hands overhead.
- As you exhale, slowly fold toward your legs. Place your hands wherever you feel comfortable.
- Allow your head to drop, relax the neck, and let your shoulders fall away from your ears.
- Hold for a few breaths. Then, slowly roll up vertebra by vertebra, until the crown of your head lifts up. Continue to shoulder rolls.
Seated Shoulder Roll
- From a seated position, roll your shoulders forward, then backward.
- Bend your neck from side to side, for an additional stretch.
- Continue for a few breaths, stretch your hands up high overhead, then bring them to heart center.
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Juanina Kocher is a certified yoga teacher, health and wellness coach, and creator of Flex Flow Wellness. Kocher offers health and wellness coaching, membership-based yoga flows, meditation and breathwork, as well as quick and easy recipes to accommodate a busy lifestyle. Her philosophy is that (consistent) baby steps are big steps towards achieving your health and wellness goals.