Updated: Oct 28
Curious about chair yoga and what it's all about? In this article we go over the benefits of the practice and what to expect from a chair yoga practice.
Chair yoga has been gaining popularity over the last few years, working its way into most yoga studios and online yoga programs.
Maybe it’s because yoga is becoming more popular by the day, people are realizing the benefits, for both mind and body, and are looking for more adaptable, sustainable yoga practices to keep going through all the seasons of life.
The benefits of chair yoga are endless, but here are some of the main benefits that I see as a full time yoga teacher offering chair yoga classes.
#1 CHAIR YOGA IS GREAT FOR ADAPTABILITY AND INJURY
Chair yoga is such a perfect way to make yoga asana (poses) accessible. With the support of the chair, you can avoid placing pressure on joints that might be a little sensitive or injured. Knee pain? Knee or hip surgery? Ankle sprains? Even wrist, shoulder and other upper body injuries or discomfort? Chair yoga can help.
Often body weight is a little too much for these areas when they are healing. Chair yoga is a great way to strengthen and mobilize the body, GENTLY. You can load the joints safely, add extra resistance when needed, through other props, like blocks, resistance bands or even light weights, when appropriate.
You can get used to the postures, stay mindful to avoid further injury or discomfort, and maybe eventually work your way out of the chair, if that’s something you are working towards (which it totally doesn't have to be, by the way).
"The world doesn't really need more people who can bend their bodies into amazing positions. What it needs are kinder, more compassionate, generous people" - Donna Farhi
#2 CHAIR YOGA AIDS IN MINDFULNESS AND MIND BODY CONNECTION
Just like in a yoga practice on the mat, you get to deepen your mind body connection and your mindfulness practice in chair yoga too. If you’ve been struggling to practice yoga, whether that's because of an injury and focusing on keeping yourself safe during practice, or wondering if you should even try yoga because you feel you don’t have a body conducive to yoga (injuries, illness, body types not represented in classic yoga marketing, etc). Chair yoga can help. It allows you to feel safe and supported during your practice, so you can let your mind focus on the practice rather than if you are safe, or avoiding further pain. Since chair yoga practices can focus on the subtle aspects of yoga a bit more (breath, gaze, meditation) you might find that you can truly focus your mind more, which allows for a deeper flow state. Some teachers would even classify some chair yoga classes as MORE ADVANCED since you have the ability to dive deeper into these other limbs of yoga, beyond the poses.
I’ll make a post about the other limbs of yoga soon. Keep your eyes peeled!
"I realized that yoga practice matures, not by adding more and more spectacular postures, but by simply paying attention to the movements of the breath in the space of the heart, and the role of the mind with body, not apart from it." - Micheal Stone
#3 BRING YOUR YOGA PRACTICE INTO THE REAL WORLD WITH EASE
What you practice on the mat, or the chair in this case, eventually sinks into your mind, nervous system, and body. As you come to your chair and practice yoga regularly, you’ll be able to bring it with you out into the world. If you can find peace, calm and relaxation seated in your chair for your practice, it will be easier to find in other aspects of your life.
As you develop a stronger connection to your body, you’ll be able to be more in tune with it.
So, as you’re sitting at your desk and you start to feel stressed and notice you are lifting your shoulders up to your ears, you might just remember that move you do in chair yoga that feels SO great for your neck.
Or the next time you are sitting in a waiting room feeling anxious, you remember that yoga breath you’ve done before that helps to settle your nervous system.
When you can find peace and calm seated on your chair in class, you can find it outside of the practice too.
Of course this applies when you aren’t seated as well, but being seated is just one step closer to that familiar feeling of being in your chair yoga class.
#4 BONUS CHAIR YOGA BENEFIT - IT'S FUN
I think a lot of people have the idea that chair yoga is for seniors' homes and church basements. And hey, it totally can be BUT it’s not limited to that. It’s actually a fun practice, just like any other yoga practice. It’s creative, it’s playful, it’s challenging and you will definitely learn and grow a lot as you practice. Don’t think that just because you are using a chair, it’s going to be easy and boring. There’s stretchy chair yoga practices, strengthening ones, challenging ones, playful ones, deep, mindful ones and everything in between. Find a teacher that you love, and check out their chair yoga classes. Keep searching until you find one that you love, one that you get excited to go to. I have a few online chair practices here and here, if you are interested. If my classes don’t suit you, keep looking! Don’t get discouraged. There are thousands of yoga teachers, you'll find the perfect one for you soon enough.
So, what's the verdict?
Bottom line: Chair yoga has a ton of benefits; it's great for accessibility, adaptability, mindfulness, stress management and of course, the physical body too. Find a teacher that you love and follow their classes, whether it's online or in person.