Yoga has been shown to improve overall health when practiced regularly. As with many forms of exercise, it can be modified for people of varying abilities. Chair yoga is a gentle form of yoga that can be done sitting on a chair or standing on the ground while using the chair for support. It is beneficial for people with limited mobility and for those who want to practice yoga at their workplace.
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Five benefits of chair yoga and six poses to get started

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Yoga has been shown to improve overall health when practiced regularly. As with many forms of exercise, it can be modified for people of varying abilities. Chair yoga is a gentle form of yoga that can be done sitting on a chair or standing on the ground while using the chair for support. It is beneficial for people with limited mobility and for those who want to practice yoga at their workplace. The benefits of practicing these chair yoga poses (called asanas) include:  

  • Improved flexibility. Flexibility allows us to do the activities we need and love to do, from twisting while driving to bending over to play with children.
  • Better concentration. Incorporating breath work with the poses can help clear your brain of unwanted thoughts, improve mood and decrease stress.
  • Increased strength. Body strength enables us to withstand falls and injury and helps us with balance.
  • Reduced joint strain. Chair yoga reduces the strain on joints and muscles, which allows someone who is unable to stand for traditional yoga an opportunity to practice too.
  • Portability and convenience. You can do chair yoga nearly anywhere you can find a place to sit.

Cat Cow-infographic

Cat/cow
Start with your hands on your thighs and sit up tall. As you exhale, round your back, pulling your abdominals into your spine, tucking your tailbone under and tucking your chin into your chest. Be as round in the upper back as you can be, pushing your mid-back toward the chair. This is cat pose.  

As you inhale, allow your belly to move forward, arch your back, send your sternum forward and look up toward the ceiling (if your neck is comfortable) or keep your head parallel to the floor. This is cow pose.  

Repeat this motion several time inhaling into cat and exhaling into cow.

Seated twist-infographic

Seated twist
Place your left hand on your right knee and your right arm over the back of your chair. Turn to look over your right shoulder and hold for four breaths.  

On the inhale, feel the spine lengthen and, on the exhale, feel a deeper twist. Exhale back to center and repeat on the other side.

Chest opener-infographic

Chest opener
Sit on the front edge of your chair and interlace your hands behind your back. As you inhale, lift your hands up and away from your back, while gently lifting your chin away from your chest. As you exhale, lower your hands down.  

Repeat this motion on your breaths at least two times. Switch the grip of your hands and repeat.

Chair pigeon-infographic

Chair pigeon/hip opener
Place your right ankle on top of your left knee. Let your right knee relax out to the side while keeping your foot flexed. As you inhale, sit up tall and as you exhale, enjoy the stretch. You can increase the stretch by placing your right hand on the right knee and applying gentle pressure. To increase the stretch even more, keep your back flat and spin lengthened and start to tip forward from the hips.

Stay for three-to-five breaths and repeat on the other side.

Forward fold-infographic

Forward fold
Start with your hands on top of your thighs and take a deep inhale. As you exhale, fold forward at your hips (rather than rounding the upper back) draping your body over your legs. Slide your hands down toward the floor. You can either hold each elbow with the opposite hand or let your arms dangle to the floor. Let your body hang heavy over your legs and your head and neck relax. On an inhale, let your hands rest on your thighs and slowly roll back up to seated.

Repeat this sequence several times. 

Kate Dusek, CHWC, LRT /uploadedImages/Content/Healthy_Set_Go/Provider_photos/Dusek_Kate-web.jpg https://wellness.allinahealth.org/providers/17998
Kate Dusek, CHWC, LRT

Meet the expert

Kate Dusek, CHWC, LRT

Kate is a certified yoga instructor and integrative health and wellness coach for the Penny George Institute for Health and Healing. She enjoys spending time going to and teaching yoga. She also enjoys spending time with her husband and two daughters doing outdoor activities, including biking, hiking, kayaking and walking their dog.

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