Chair Yoga – A Gentler Form Of Yoga

Shantha Kalia

Among the several different types of yoga practiced, chair yoga evolved in recent years as a method of achieving physical and mental fitness.  As the name suggests, chair yoga is practiced sitting in a chair, or sometimes using a chair for support.  Chair yoga is practiced mostly by seniors and is available in most senior fitness centers, retirement facilities, rehabilitation centers, and adult daycare centers.

Chair yoga is a gentler form of yoga that does not involve complicated maneuvers and movements.  Seniors find chair yoga comfortable, as they are able to practice yoga poses while seated in a chair.  They are able to practice simple breathing techniques, and meditation using a chair and without moving from standing to seated and supine positions.  They can do versions of twists, hip stretches, forward bends, and mild backbends while seated.

Chair yoga is an innovative approach for people with movement difficulties who are unable to access the healing benefits of traditional yoga.  Chair yoga offers a safe and controlled approach to therapeutic movement patterns, which can range from increased sitting/standing posture, transfer training, breath awareness, and pain management.  Chair yoga offered to seniors in adult daycare centers allow people in their 80 and 90’s to enjoy the benefits of yoga for the first time in their lives.

Chair yoga helps people deal with several health issues including hypertension, arthritis, vertigo, multiple sclerosis, carpal tunnel syndrome, musculoskeletal aches, and chronic pain.

Common poses in chair yoga are leg stretch, shoulder stretch, arm twist, spinal twist, etc.  Some of the particular yoga poses that can be done using a chair are:

  • Chair Forward Bend – Uttanasana
  • Chair Raised Hands Pose – Urdhva Hastasana
  • Chair Extended Side Angle – Utthita Parsvakonasana
  • Chair Pigeon – Eka Pada Rajakapotasana
  • Chair Eagle – Garudasana
  • Chair Warrior I – Virabhadrasana I
  • Chair Spinal Twist – Ardha Matsyendrasana

 Who Can Practice Chair Yoga?

Senior citizens are the biggest target audience of chair yoga.  However, obese people and people with neurological diseases can also practice chair yoga.  It is advisable to discuss with your physician before embarking on a regimen of chair yoga.

Another group of people that can greatly benefit from chair yoga are office workers who spend several hours at their desk each day.  Adapting some chair yoga poses allows including some stretches at work in the comfort of their chairs.

Do You Need a Special Chair?

There is no need to invest in any kind of specialized yoga chair, since chair yoga is adaptable to your situation and chair.  Unstable chairs should not be used to practice chair yoga, for example, chair with wheels or swivel chair.  Any regular chair that is stable will suffice.  Placing a yoga mat or wooden block under the feet gives a firm foundation.

Chair yoga can be practiced by almost anyone as no special gear or equipment need be purchased.  If you can sit upright in a chair, gently move the torso and limbs, and breathe comfortably, you are all set to begin chair yoga.  You can use a belt to secure yourself to the chair if you feel shaky.  Wear comfortable clothing that allows you to move your limbs freely.

 Sources for this article include:

About the Author: Shantha Kalia is a health care professional at a New York City hospital. She completed her masters in Public Health, and has worked in various capacities in health care for over 15 years. She is a freelancer and contributes articles to various websites on various medical and health-related topics. Her interests include health and wellness, diet and nutrition, and maintaining a healthy lifestyle. To read more articles by Shantha, please visit
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