in Be Yoga

Chair Yoga for Work or Home

Have a break from the long sitting hours at work, by practicing these chair yoga sequence which will energize you and relieve some tension in your back and shoulders.

This sequence is designed to move the spine into all its possible directions: forward bending (flexion), backward bending (extension), twisting and side bending. Whether you have been sitting in a chair at work or at home, this quick chair yoga sequence will refresh your body and mind!

Setting up:
Choose a chair that is not too soft; couches and lounge chairs make it difficult to sit with proper alignment. The chair should preferably have no arms. Folding chairs and dining chairs work well. If your chair feels too hard, place a folded blanket or towel on the chair seat.

Sit away from the back of the chair, balanced on your sitting bones. Place your feet hip bone width apart. Your knees should be at the level of your hips, and your heels should be directly below your knees. Lengthen the spine and gently tone the core by drawing your belly button up and in. Rest your hands on your lap comfortably with the palms facing up. Begin to deepen your breath, breathing in and out through the nose.

Breath meditation
Breathing slowly with intention calms the nervous system and relaxes the mind. Meditations with the breath help you to be less reactive to challenging situations and people, and they help you diffuse anger before you act in anger.

Still breathing in and out through the nose, begin to count the length of your inhales and exhales. Count slowly 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, on your inhales, and count down 5, 4, 3, 2, 1 on your exhales. Repeat for 1-5 minutes.

Seated Cat Cow Breathing
This flow pairs breath with movement for a moving meditation. It also wakes up the spine and moves it back and forth between forward and backward bending

To practice the flow:
Place your hands on top of your knees with your fingers hanging over the edge of the kneecaps. On an inhale, left your chest and look toward the sky. Use your hands to assist pulling your spine into a gentle backbend. On an exhale, round your spine and drop your chin toward your chest, letting your back round toward the back of the chair. Repeat the sequence for 3-5 repetitions.

Seated Sun Salutation
This sequence continues flexion and extension of the spine, and adds a bit of warmup for the shoulders and wrists.

To practice the flow:
Bring your hands together in front of your heart and your spine to its neutral curves. Inhale and reach the arms out and up, palms facing each other. Exhale bring your hands down to shoulder height in front of you and interlace your fingers. Turn the interlaced fingers so the palms face away from you and press the palms forward while rounding the spine. Inhale and spread the arms wide, straight out from the shoulders with palms facing up, and arch the spine into a gentle backbend. Exhale and return to the starting position. Repeat the sequence 3-5 repetitions.

Chair Ragdoll Forward Fold
This posture lengthens the spine and releases the muscles of the neck. It is a safe way to stretch the spine with no effort, and without resistance from the hamstrings. This posture is great for relieving tension headaches.

To get into the posture:
From your seated position, bring your knees and feet a bit wider than hip bone width. Inhale to lengthen the spine up toward the sky, then exhale to fold your torso between your thighs and let your head hang down toward the floor. Fold your arms and let them hang; the weight of the arms and the head allow gravity to assist in lengthening the spine. Stay for 5-10 breaths. When you are done, release the fold of the arms and slowly roll the spine back up to vertical, letting the head be the last thing to come up.

Chair chest expansion
Chair chest expansion opens up the front of your chest and helps counteract rounded shoulders. It is refreshing and energizing if you have been sitting for a long period of time.

To get into the posture:
Reach behind you with your thumbs facing down and grab the bottom of the back of the chair. Lean forward against the grip of your hands, and press your chest through your shoulders, tilting your gaze up to the sky. Breath 3-5 deep breaths into the upper chest, then slowly lean back and release the arms.

Chair crescent moon
Chair crescent moon is a delicious side stretch and core strengthener. It opens up the ribs and increases the efficiency of your lungs. You’ll feel like you automatically breathe deeper after this posture!

To get into the posture:
From your seated position, inhale the arms up overhead with the palms facing in. Interlace three fingers and cross your thumbs, leaving your index fingers pointing up (temple clasp). Exhale and bend sideways to the right, using the right hand to gently pull the left arm up and overhead. Make sure to keep the right side body long even as you bend toward that side; you should not feel “crunchy” in the side of your spine. Inhale back to center, the exhale to the left. Repeat the sequence one breath per movement 3-5 times, then hold each side for 3-5 breaths.

Variation: If your core is fatigued or you feel a “crunch” in the side of your spine with both arms overhead, instead place your right hand on the seat of the chair beside your hip, and reach the left arm up and overhead, using your right hand to support the length of your spine. Repeat on the other side.

Chair twist
Moving the body into twists stimulates the digestive system. Twists also neutralize the spine and help you find your spine’s optimum alignment.

To get into the posture:
Sit sideways in your chair, your legs over the right side of the chair. Inhale to lengthen the spine, then exhale to twist to your right toward the back of the chair. Grasp either side of the back of the chair with both hands and use it to gently assist your twist. Make sure your knees stay in line with one another and both your sits bones stay rooted on the chair. Hold for 3-5 breaths, then return to center, move your legs to the left side of the chair, and repeat the twist to your left.

Chair half pigeon
The external rotation of the thighbone in the hip socket is refreshing for the hips, which have been in a flexed position for a long period of time if you have been seated all day. Opening the hips can also help release the low back and relieve low back pain.

To get into the posture:
Sit tall on your sitting bones toward the front of your chair with knees directly in front of the hips and heels directly below the knees. Cross your right ankle over your left knee, and let your right knee settle down toward the floor without pushing it down. If you feel enough stretch, stay here. If you would like to feel a bit more, fold your torso forward toward your shin, keeping the spine long and not rounded. Stay for 5-10 breaths, then repeat on the other side.


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