When you think of yoga you may imagine skinny young things doing headstands whilst managing to contort themselves into knots, but we’re here to reassure you that yoga is in fact for everyone and can be practiced in many different forms to suit each persons abilities and needs.
Let’s face it, even if fit we are not all as agile as we used to be. Practising chair yoga poses when you’re older can be incredibly beneficial and many experts do say that often the rewards are even more noticeable and enjoyable.
Retirement is actually the ideal opportunity to pick up yoga as most people with jam packed working schedules often don’t have the time. It’s never too late to improve your fitness or to reverse bad habits or poor posture. The cells that make up our bodies rebuild themselves over time making it entirely possible to improve past injuries, aching backs or stiff joints with the aid of yoga.
Other benefits include increased lung capacity from breathing techniques, core strength and general all over strength, stress release and better sleep.
A sharper and clearer mind can also be a huge benefit.
The results will not come overnight of course, you have to put the time in and practice regularly to fully reap the rewards but why not start a fresh in this new year and begin your manageable journey to a fitter, happier self.
Chair yoga is a great solution
While seated you can practice versions of twists, hip stretches, forward bends, and mild backbends depending on your mobility and what’s comfortable for you.
Spring Chicken has put together the best 9 step routine for you to practice from your living room.
First thing’s first: find yourself a decent chair (without wheels) that can withstand a little weight and pressure and is comfortable enough for you to sit for fairly long periods of time on and give it a try!
1. The cat-cow stretch:
Come to sit on a chair with the spine long and both feet planted flat on the floor. On an inhale, arch your back and drop your shoulders. This is cow position. On an exhale, round your spine, letting the shoulder and head come forward. This is cat position. Continue moving between cow on the inhalations and cat on the exhalations for five breaths.
Why this pose? The cat-cow stretch is a yoga classic, and with good reason. It consists of moving the spine from a rounded position (flexion) to an arched one (extension). It’s a simple motion, but one that is enormously beneficial in preventing back pain and maintaining a healthy spine. Each movement is done in conjunction with either an inhalation or exhalation of the breath, making this a simple pose. If you already have back pain, check with your doctor before beginning to make sure these movements are appropriate for your condition.
Benefits: Improves spinal flexibility and abdominal strength.
2. Chair raised hands pose:
On an inhalation, raise your arms toward the ceiling.
Allow your shoulder blades to slide down your back, shoulders relaxed as you reach upwards with your fingertips.
Breath deeply and feel yourself relaxing into the pose.
Hold it for as long as is comfortable, keeping your alignment straight at all times.
Benefits: Improves posture, strengthens thighs, opens shoulders.
3. Chair forward-bend:
On an exhalation, come into a forward bend over the legs as far as you can comfortably manage.
Let the hands rest as near to your ankles as possible.
Let the head hang heavy.
On an inhalation, raise the arms back up over the head.
Repeat this sequence several times, moving with the breath and feeling the release.
Benefits: Stretches and lengthens the hamstrings.
4. Chair extended side-angle:
After your final forward bend, stay folded.
Bring your left fingertips as close to the floor on the outside of your left leg/ankle or foot depending on your flexibility.
Open your chest as you twist to the right on an inhale, bringing your right arm and gaze up to the ceiling.
Hold here for several breaths.
Bring the right arm down on an exhale. If your left hand doesn’t come easily to the floor, bring it to your left knee instead and twist from there. Do the same position with the right arm down and the left arm up.
Benefits: Strengthens and stretches the legs, groins, hamstrings. Opens the chest and shoulders.
5. Chair eagle:
Cross your right leg over your left in normal sitting position. If you can, wrap the right foot around the left calf. Cross your left arm over the right one at the elbow. Bend the elbows and bring your palms to touch. Lift the elbows while dropping the shoulders away from the ears. Hold three to five breaths. Repeat on the other side.
Benefits: Strengthens legs, improves balance, stretches the shoulders
6. Chair spinal-twist:
Sit sideways on the chair, facing to the left.
Twist your torso toward the left, holding onto the back of the chair.
Lengthen your spine on each inhale and twist on each exhale for five breaths.
Move your legs around to the right side of the chair and repeat the twist to the right side.
Benefits: Opens the shoulders, neck and hips while stretching the spine.
7. Chair warrior I:
Now keep the right leg in position over the chair while you swing the left leg behind you.
Plant the sole of the left foot on the floor and straighten the left leg as much as you are capable of.
Keep your torso facing over the right leg as you raise your arms up to the ceiling on a inhale.
Hold for three breaths.
Benefits: Strengthens the legs, opens the chest and shoulders
8. Chair warrior II:
On an exhale, open up the arms with the right arm coming forward and the left arm going back.
Let the torso turn to the left, becoming aligned with the front of the chair.
Gaze out over the right fingertips and hold for three breaths.
Benefits: Strengthen the legs and arms, opens the chest and shoulders, tones the abdomen.
9. Chair reverse warrior:
Let the left arm come down the left leg and lift the right arm up to the ceiling on an inhale.
Hold for three breaths.
Bring both legs to the front of the chair before coming to sit sideways on the chair facing left and going through the series of three warrior poses on the right side.
Remember that we are all completely different in our agility, ability and body types so go easy on yourself and only do what is comfortable for you.
It’s good to push yourself if your feeling the benefits but maybe it’s best to check with your GP if you have any specific conditions that may require extra care for these kinds of poses.