Chair Yoga as a Therapy
Yoga Therapy is a very powerful tool. It can help people reduce pain, encouraging mobility and strength in our bodies and reducing stress and anxiety. This basic Chair Yoga routine has been written as a reference guide for students who have already learnt this with me, either at one of my Yoga classes that I run in Norwich and Sudbury, or as a private student. If you have any specific pain or problems that you are looking for Yoga Therapy to help with then please be sensible. There are some movements that may be contraindicated for certain conditions. So please first contact your medical professional and discuss with them whether Chair Yoga can be a suitable therapy for yourself.
I have only given brief descriptions for each movement as it is assumed that you are already familiar with the routine described here.
Please note that each exercise is grouped by joint, and we are working up the body. This is only to help you try to remember the routine, and denotes the primary area or joint that is being used. This does not mean that you will not feel anything in the rest of the body, or which muscles the movement will engage or stretch.
You do not have to stick to this guide. Try your best to remember the sequence on your own, using this only if you need a reference or cannot remember what comes next.
Remember that we were working our way up the body, starting at the toes and going all the way up to the neck.
Try to maintain a focused awareness, without getting distracted. Chair Yoga works better for your mind and body when you are clear and concentrated and focused on the sensations that you are getting from your body.
Remember to listen to your body, if doing any pose causes any pain discontinue the practice and consult your medical professional.
If you have any questions or queries about the sequence please feel free to email me and I will try to help in anyway that I can. I am also available for private lessons, where I can travel to you. This can be a really great way to learn, and you will get complete attention and guidance. Private lessons really are recommended for people who are looking to use Chair Yoga as a therapy. Click here for more information on private lessons.
Chair Yoga Routine
So starting by sitting up straight. Take a few slow, deep breaths, remembering that you should be breathing through your nose throughout the entire practice. Your breath should be slow, measured and full.
1. Lifting Toes
First working on the toes by lifting them all up and holding for 5 – 10 breaths. Then if you can try to separate them all as well.
2. Lifting Heels
Second step is to bring the toes down and raise your heel off the ground, again hold for five to ten breaths. Finish by placing your heels back down.
3. Ankle Rotations, Flexion, & Extension
Then lifting your right leg, and holding underneath your thigh. Keep your leg straight. You can then practice your ankle rotations. Going five times one way and then five times the opposite way. Then ankle flexion and extension, or pointing your toes away from you then toward you. Breathing in as you point your toes away from you, and breathing out as you point them towards yourself.
Do the same on your left leg.
1. Knee Circles
Again take your right leg, holding it underneath the thigh. You will now move your shin and foot in a circular motion 5 times one way and then five times the other. This should be coming from the knee joint, not the ankle.
2. Straight Leg Hamstring Stretch
Keep holding underneath your right thigh and then raise your foot up so that your leg is completely straight. Then use your hand to bring your leg up as high as it will go. Do not allow your knee to bend.
Repeat both steps on your left leg.
1. Leg Raises
Start by lifting your right leg and pulling you knee up and squeezing your shin up towards your chest. Keep sitting up tall. And lower your leg down again. Repeat this 10 times, coordinating your breath to your movement, exhaling as you bring your leg up.
On the sixth time keep your leg up, allow your knee to drop to the side and place your right foot on your left thigh. This is the starting position for Half Butterfly.
2. Half Butterfly
Use your palm to repeatedly press down on your right knee, allowing it to spring back up to its original position, this should be quite a quick motion and you can do this 40-50 times.
Repeat both steps on your left leg.
3. Hip Opening
Spread both legs wide bringing them either side of the chair. And use your hands to gently press your legs apart. Hold this for 10 breaths.
1. Back Bend & Forward Bend Warm Up.
Place your hands on your knees and arch your spine and look up, as you do this take a big breath in. as you exhale you are going to round your back and tuck your head down. Repeat this five times.
2. Forward Bend
Then it’s time for the forward bend where you drop your whole upper body down to your legs, you can either let your hands hang or you can reach between your legs and try to reach and hold the chair, which you can use to give yourself a little traction and pull your body down into the bend a little further. Hold this for 10 breaths. You can repeat this a second time with your legs spread a little wider, this will reach the bend more to your inner thighs and hips, rather than your hamstrings and back. If you do this then again hold for 10 breaths.
Keeping your legs still, turn your body to the right and place your left hand on your right knee. Keep sitting up straight and try to look as far behind you as possible. Hold for 10 breaths. And then do the same to the left side, using your right hand on your left knee. Another option is to do the same twist but with your legs crossed. To do this you cross your right leg over your left, and then place your left hand on your right knee, and twist to your right side. Then do the same on your left side, again holding each side for ten breaths.
4. Side Bending
Step one is to raise your right arm up halfway with an inhalation. Then turn your palm up as you exhale and then inhale and bring your arm all the way up above your head. Keep stretching your shoulder and arm up towards the ceiling and five times repeated spread your fingers as wide as they can possibly go with an inhalation and then squeeze your fist as tightly as possible with your thumb on the inside as you exhale. Then you can do your side bend to the left side, relaxing your hand now and bringing your arm over you and to the left, stretching the right side of your body. You can use your left hand to support yourself if needed.
Hold for 5 breaths and repeat on the left arm, bending to the right.
THE HAND STRETCHES
1. Finger Pulling
Raise your right arm up in front of you and use your left hand to pull your fingers towards you, starting on your thumb and going towards your little finger.
Hold each finger for five breaths and repeat on both sides.
2. Wrist Flexion / Extension
Again bring your arms up and then point your fingers up as you inhale and then down as you exhale, breathing in as they raise ad down as they point down. Repeat five times.
Keep your arms up ready for the elbow warming below.
1. Elbow Warming A
Your arms should still be raised from the wrist flexion above. For elbow warming A Turn your palms up and then trying to keep your upper arms parallel to the floor touch your hands towards your shoulders with an exhalation and then stretch them out with an inhalation. Do this five times and stop with your hands on your shoulders and then open your arms so that your elbows point out to the sides ready for elbow warming B.
2. Elbow Warming B
Then again stretch your arms out and then touch your hands to your shoulders five times, breathing in as your hands stretch out and breathing out as they touch your shoulders.
Keep your hands on your shoulders for the shoulder rotations below.
1. Shoulder Rotations
Keeping your hands on your shoulders rotate your arms in big circles, remembering to coordinate your breath, inhaling as your arms raise and exhaling as they lower. Imagine pens on your elbows and try to draw as big a circle as possible. Do this five times and then do the same going in the opposite direction.
1. Neck Turning
Keeping the rest of your body still, turn your head to the right with an inhalation, and then back to the centre with an exhalation. Then do the same to the left side.
Repeat 5 times on each side.
2. Neck Tilting.
Keeping the rest of your body still, try not to move the position of your chin as you drop your head first to the right side with an exhalation, and then to the left. Inhale each time you return your head up to its original position.
3. Neck Flexion & Extension
Keeping the rest of your body still, drop your chin to your chest with an exhalation. Bring it up and open your mouth with your inhalation and look up, tilting your neck back as far as possible. When you can’t go any further close your mouth.
TWO DYNAMIC MOVEMENTS TO FINISH
These two are more dynamic chair yoga movements, where the whole body will be more engaged than in the isolated movements above.
1. Churning Butter
Interlock your hands in front of you with your arms straight. It’s important to keep your arms straight throughout the entire movement. You can imagine that you are holding a paddle which is going to churn a large vat of butter. Then begin to draw a very large circle with your hands going as far forward and back, and to each side as possible with each movement. Inhale as you come back, and exhale as you come forward. Repeat five times in each direction.
Start by sitting up straight. This time you are going to imagine that you are holding two oars in your hands. Inhale and bring your arms up, raising your hands as high as possible, then as you exhale bring them forward and down, you can sweep them past your legs and then back towards your body, ready for your next inhalation as you raise them up again. Keep this going for ten repetitions, making you hands go in as big a circle as possible.
1. Corpse Pose
Lie down on the floor with some cushions underneath your knees and try to relax and let go of all tension from every part of your body. You can make a mental rotation around your whole body, feeling each part relax and release as you do.
Stay here for 5-10 minutes, with your breath coming naturally.
Thank you and I hope to see you in class soon. Click here to find a Class.