If you have enjoyed yoga in the past, you are well aware of the benefits this ancient Hindu discipline offers. You may also know that even though yoga is synonymous with serenity, tranquility and relaxation, it can be a rigorous and demanding practice.
So what do you do when your spirit is craving the deep stretch of a “downward facing dog” yoga pose, but your body says it just can’t move that way anymore? The answer is chair yoga. The following three chair yoga exercises are favorites of residents at Bethany Village who come to the Fitness Center. Give it a try!
Warm up with a few shoulder rolls and shake out your arms and hands. Sit in a simple straight-back chair and try these basic moves:
- Forward Bend for easing upper back and neck tension. Sit facing forward. Breathe in then bend forward while breathing out. Let your head and arms hang over your knees. Relax into the position and hold for a few seconds while breathing normally. Breathe in while slowly returning to a seated position.
- Side Stretch for increasing flexibility in the spinal column, improving breathing and reducing waistline. Sit facing forward with your feet slightly apart, breathe in and raise your arms out to the sides. Breathe out and bend to the left, reaching toward the floor with your left hand and toward the ceiling with your right hand. Breathe in and return to the starting position. Repeat with your right side.
- Knee Squeeze for relaxing the lower back and improving breathing. Sit facing forward. Breathe out completely then breathe in. While holding your breath, place both hands around the front of one knee and pull it to your chest. Lower your head to your knee, hold pose for a few seconds and release slowly while breathing out. Repeat with your right side.
Remember: Never push your body to the point that causes pain. You will still benefit from chair yoga, even if you are not very flexible. If you practice on a regular basis, your flexibility and strength will likely increase.
To find an Arthritis Foundation-certified chair yoga class in your area, contact the foundation chapter in your area. Be sure to check with your doctor before beginning any exercise practice, especially if you have any special health concerns.
Tell us about your experiences with yoga below!