Whether you’re unable to sit on the floor, or just don’t want to get on the floor, here’s some easy chair Yoga! This routine is perfect for total novices with limitations, or an office worker who needs a quick break! (Or anyone, want to try chair Yoga? You can!)
Requirements: A chair or couch.
Rather than over and over saying that each pose is a “modified X pose”, I’m telling you now. All the poses are based on other yoga poses, which are typically done standing or on the ground. So put away your mat and sit down!
Seated relaxation: Of course we need to start with a little seated breathing. This is a good moment to check in with yourself, especially if you’re unfamiliar with chair Yoga. I sit pretty far forward on the chair, this forces me to use my core to sit up straight. If you can’t do that, or ever get tired during the practice, feel free to scoot back and use the back rest as support. Try to maintain straight, upright posture if you do use the backrest.
Your feet should be about hip width apart, and you want your hips, knees, and ankles all at 90 degree angles. If you have any hip or knee injuries, it may be more comfortable to put your feet farther away and let your knees create a larger angle.
Point and flex feet: Straighten your right leg and either keep your heel on the ground, or raise your foot off the floor. If you’re looking to work on strength, lifting your foot off the ground will be more work. Point and flex your right foot then switch legs. Point and flex the same amount on each side.
Ankle circles: This is the same set up as the previous pose. Straight leg, lifted or heel on the ground. If you want more of a work out, lift both legs and draw circles with both of your feet simultaneously instead of one at a time.
Cat/Cow: Keep your feet flat on the ground with your knees bent. If you know how to do Cat pose on all-fours, this is the same thing, only seated. Hollow out your stomach, round your back let your chin drop to your chest. Hang out here for a moment before leading with your nose and drawing an arc for your spine to follow. Now your back is arched and you can look up slightly. Go back and forth between these two. You can do them with your breath, or hold each side for a moment.
Forward fold: Straighten you legs in front of you, keep your heels on the ground here. Flex both your feet, then fold forward. This is a great hamstring stretch. If you have super tight hamstrings, this version can be nice too, so you can focus more on relaxing and stretching, than using your muscles and struggling through a standing or seated version.
Side stretch: Plant your right hand on the right side of your seat. If you can grasp the side of your seat with your fingers, avoid griping it super tightly. With your left palmed turned out at your side, bring it up and over head from the side and lean to the right. Push into your right hand to come out, then switch sides!
Seated twist: Plant your right hand on the left side of your seat. If you can grasp the side of your seat with your fingers, avoid griping it super tightly. Now hold the back of your chair with your left hand, or push into the back. Use these two hands to help your body twist to the left. Turn your head to look over your left shoulder. Once in this pose, you may find you can place your left hand on the right side of the back of your chair. (If you’re on a could, just place your hand flat on the back and use it to support and push into your twist.) When you’re ready to release, start with our head and come back to a neutral position. Switch sides!
Arms straight up: Bring your arms and hands up straight in front of your shoulders with your palms facing. Interlace your fingers, and turn your palms out. Raise your hands up and overhead. If this is a strain on your shoulders, you can add a slight bend to your elbows, or come out of this slightly. You can create a slight back bend in this pose as well by tilting back slightly and looking up. When you’re ready, release your fingers and let them float down your sides. If you’d like, interlace your fingers the opposite way and doing it again! For most people, interlacing your fingers the opposite way will feel very strange.
Knee to chest (Wind relieving pose): Lift your right foot off the ground, and bring it into your right chest. You can wrap your arms around your right shin, back of your right thigh, or use a strap in either place. People who are stiff or curvier may prefer to use a strap, but maybe not!
Thread the needle: Lift your right foot off the ground and cross your right ankle over the top of your left thigh/knee. This is a pretty common position for some people to sit in. You may feel a stretch here on the outside of your right hip. If you feel like it, lean forward, first with a flight back, then relax forward. Your arms can be nice and relaxed in this pose. I recommend keeping your feet flexed in this pose to protect your knees. And switch side!
Child’s pose (W/ pillow): This is pretty simple. With your feet flat on the ground, a la our starting position, lean forward and let your body rest on your thighs. If you don’t feel comfortable like that, place a pillow or two (or three?) on your thighs an lean on those! In fact, do that even if you’re super bendy and can lay your torso on your thighs. It’s wonderful.
Seated Savasana: Remove that pillow and place it behind you, lean back, and let your feet move father away from you. Relax your feet and let them flop to the sides. Try to avoid slouching your back in our seated savasana. If you have a bed, clean floor, or couch, why not lie down completely?
Yum! I loved this routine. It’s so short, simple, sweet, and lazy. Kind of like me…minus short, simple, and sweet.