Have you ever wondered what the benefits are of chair yoga? And why you might choose to practice yoga using a chair?
In this blog we’ll explore ten reasons why you should try practicing chair yoga. As well as tips and guidance on how you can best practice short chair yoga sequences.
Ten Benefits of Chair Yoga
(1) Making Yoga More Accessible
Traditional yoga done on a yoga mat on the floor requires you to be able to get up and down unassisted from standing to the floor. For people that have mobility challenges, disabilities, or injuries practicing on a yoga mat is inaccessible.
By doing yoga in a chair it’s possible to adapt yoga postures in a way that is accessible for more people. As long as you can sit in a chair, you can practice chair yoga.
“If you can breathe, you can do yoga” — T. Krishnamacharya
Chair yoga is also better suited to practicing yoga in an office setting where there might only be meeting rooms available with chairs and no facilities for office workers to easily change their clothes.
(2) Being More Active
Many of us have sedentary lifestyles and spend the majority of our life sitting. If you think about all the activities you do in the week, you’ll probably find that almost all of them involve sitting.
National health services recommend that we should be more physically active and aim to do some type of physical activity every day. It’s also been shown to beneficial for our physical health to break up longer periods of sitting time with 1-2 minutes of movement.
Chair yoga stretches can be a great tool to add some movement between long periods of sitting during your day.
(3) Releasing Tension and Pain
When you’re sitting for longer periods of time, there’s often a point where you stop paying attention to your posture.
You might start to slump in your seat and round your spine, resulting in increased pressure on your lower back. Also, if you’re working behind your laptop, you might start to lean your head more forward towards the screen.
Stress can also create tension in your body. You might notice your shoulders rising up towards your ears and face muscles feeling more contracted.
It’s therefore not surprising really that these small aches and pains over time can build up into longer term tension and pain. Resulting in headaches, chronic neck and shoulder pain, or unbearable backache.
Chair yoga postures can help release some of the tension and tightness in your body by focusing on building more mobility and strength. There’s evidence that a regular yoga practice can be beneficial for aches and pains – including lower back, shoulder and neck pain. As well as help you bring more awareness to your posture and overtime improve it.
(4) Getting Better Sleep
A bad night sleep can easily influence your mood and energy levels throughout the day. Light forms of exercise, like chair yoga, have been shown to help improve the quality of your sleep.
Chair yoga therefore has the possibility to help us feel better rested and have more energy during our day.
If you are feeling stressed after a busy day it can be helpful to do a (chair) yoga practice to help unwind at the end of your day. Hopefully allowing you to feel calmer when going to bed and get a good night sleep.
(5) Becoming More Flexible
Our bodies become less flexible as we age. Stiffness and limited range of mobility can be felt earlier in life if we sit for long periods of time, and/or do repetitive actions like walking, cycling and running. So that probably includes all of us 😊
Scientific studies show that yoga is a safe and effective way to increase flexibility, strength, and balance.
Yoga stretches can be very effective to improve our flexibility and ensure you have a wide range of mobility during mid and old age. Allowing you to move with ease and stay independent as you become older.
Building flexibility takes time and consistency. So, try practicing regularly over a period of time in order to notice these benefits of increased range of flexibility and mobility.
(6) Increasing Stability and Strength
To ensure you’re literally strong enough to face life, it’s recommended for all adults to work on building strength at least two days a week to keep muscles, bones and joints strong.
Targeted chair yoga exercises that use your bodyweight can be used to increase or maintain muscle strength and stability. By practicing (chair) yoga you can learn how to engage and activate a wide range of muscles.
It’s worth mentioning that although there are strengthening chair yoga postures other forms of exercise such as resistance training and pilates are more effective at building and maintaining muscle strength and bone density.
However, if you aren’t currently doing any strength and stability work chair yoga postures that use bodyweight can be a great place to start.
(7) Improving Balance and Avoiding Falls
Working on your ability to balance can help you be able to move more safely in unpredictable ways and prevent accidents. Having a good balance is particularly helpful later in life since it can help reduce the possibility of injuries from falling.
Just like working on your strength, physical guidelines recommend to use tools—such as yoga—at least twice a week to work on your balance.
In chair yoga it’s possible to work on your balance in a safe and controlled way. First exploring changing your centre of balance by leaning forward, backwards or sideways while sitting in your chair.
As you start to move your body in different directions you’ll find that you need to engage specific muscles in your feet, legs and core to stay steady in the chair. And by repeating these movements regularly, you can help train your body to react to unpredictable movements and have a better balance.
You can also experiment with standing balance postures—like the Tree Pose, Vrksasana—using the back of the chair for support as needed.
(8) Reducing Stress
How easy do you find it to cope with daily stresses and unexpected challenges in life?
Mental wellbeing is about how you generally feel in life. If you feel a greater sense of mental wellbeing, it is likely that most of the time you have a high self-esteem, and low levels of anxiety, depression and stress.
A recent sports review found that physical activities—like chair yoga—can improve our self-esteem and cognitive functions. As well as reduce anxiety, depression and stress.
During yoga you take time to sit quietly. You start to tune into how your body feels and observe your breath. By doing your best to focus your mind on observing your breath and body you’ll find that your mind starts to calm down, and as a result you’ll find that your stress levels are reduced.
(9) Feeling Energised
Over the course of a busy day, you might notice that you start to lose energy. After working for a few hours on the same thing you become less productive. Leading you to feel low on energy and easily distracted.
By building in short chair yoga breaks into your day, you can help regulate your energy levels and be more efficient in your work.
The great thing with chair yoga is that there’s no extra time needed to set up equipment or change clothes. Taking away some of the physical and mental barriers involved in finding enough time to practice yoga.
All you need to do is make the time to take a short break in your day to practice a chair yoga pose or sequence in your own chair!
(10) Building New Social Connections
Like with learning any new skill, starting to practice chair yoga can be a great opportunity for individual development. Also, making different physical movements with your body can help you feel more confident and increase your self-esteem.
If you practice chair yoga with other a group of colleagues or people in your community it can help you form new social bonds and connections with people.
How-to Best Practice Chair Yoga
After hearing these ten benefits of practicing chair yoga, you might now be wondering how can you get started?
If you’re looking for a guided short chair yoga sequence to do at home, you can create your own chair yoga break by practicing along with my 15-minute chair yoga sequence on YouTube.
If you’ve got less than 15 minutes to practice you could still start at the beginning of the video and just practice along for the first 5 or 10 minutes.
Remembering that any time that you take to invest in your health and wellbeing will have a long-term positive impact.
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