Yoga Philosophy and Lifestyle

Is Chair Yoga Right For You?

September 30, 2019

Look around the room at one of YogaToday teacher Adi Amar's chair yoga classes at her Jackson, Wyoming based studio, Teton Yoga Shala, and you'll see yogis of all shapes, sizes, and abilities. There is a senior who chooses the class to strengthen his bones and improve his balance in a safe, non-weight-bearing way. There is an advanced yogi and teacher who uses the yoga chair to deepen into advanced backbends and hip openers. There is a beginner student learning good alignment and fundamentals on the chair. There is an athlete, who uses chair yoga as a restorative way to lengthen his tissues and prevent injury. And, finally, there is an intermediate yogi who is recovering from an injury and is able to continue her practice by modifying with the chair.

a yoga teacher teacher her yoga student on a yoga chair in Grand Teton National Park
A chair can help you safely deepen your yoga practice.

The takeaway here is clear: chair yoga is for everybody. It can be particularly beneficial to beginners, seniors, and people with limited mobility, but you might be surprised at how versatile the practice really is. But, first, what exactly is it?

The practice is pretty self-explanatory: it incorporates elements of both Hatha and Iyengar styles of yoga and uses a chair (you can use a yoga- specific chair, like this one, or any folding or even dining room chair that you have) as the main prop. Classical poses and sequences are taught using the chair as a means of support, way to go deeper into poses, and in creative ways to teach alignment, strength, and flexibility.

Who is Chair Yoga Beneficial For?

  • Beginners
  • Those suffering from workplace tension or who sit at a desk for most of the day
  • Those suffering from chronic conditions such as carpal tunnel, chronic pain, osteoporosis, multiple sclerosis, arthritis, and more
  • Seniors
  • Those at risk for blood clots or who travel on long flights frequently
  • Yogis who are recovering from an injury
  • Those looking for stress reduction and relaxation
  • People with health issues such as hypertension, anxiety, chronic fatigue, and depression
  • Advanced yogis who need a gentle practice to round out a rigorous schedule and bring balance to asymmetrical areas
Woman does a spinal twist on a yoga chair
A chair can assist your spine by helping you by deepen into twists.

What are the Benefits?

  • Improved strength
  • Improved flexibility
  • Improved proprioception (body awareness)
  • Reduced stress and a sense of wellbeing
  • Pain management
  • Relief from workplace tension (mental and physical)
  • A self-care practice
  • Mindfulness
  • Increased mobility

How Do I Practice?

If you have a kitchen, dining room, or folding chair at home, you are ready to start! Follow along with teacher Adi Amar as she leads you through these excellent practices:

  1. Gentle Chair Yoga for Stiff Spines
  2. Chair Yoga Fundamentals
  3. Neck and Shoulder Relief

You can also check your local studio or community center for chair classes. Have fun, and remember:

Yoga isn't merely for the flexible, it's for the willing!

<strong>Michelle DeLong</strong>

Michelle DeLong

Michelle is a writer, editor and yoga teacher based in Jackson Hole, Wyoming.