How to do yoga anywhere (seated yoga)

IMG_36761I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again- you really can do yoga anywhere.  Not only do you not need a mat, you don’t even need space to lay down.  Imagine being able to get your practice in while sitting at your desk, on the couch, or in your car (preferably not while driving though!).  How easy would that be?  Learning a few ‘chair yoga’ poses can make your practice more accessible and doable.  The key to having a great personal practice is to make sure that you’re actually doing it!  So if the easiest way for you to practice is while sitting, taking a break from another activity, that’s fine.  Seated yoga can also be great if you’re recovering from injuries that don’t allow you to lay or stand comfortably.  Over the past few years I’ve taught this form of yoga to seniors, people with physical disabilities, and busy executives; anyone can do it.  Here are the main moves you need to know to practice ‘chair yoga’-

  • Head and shoulder rolls.  Sit tall with your back away from the back of the chair and your feet resting flat on the floor (if possible).  Roll your head around in complete circles, working out as many kinks as you can.  Feel free to pause on any extra tight spots.  Then roll your shoulders up and back at least 5 times, using the full range of motion in your shoulder joints.  Feel yourself countering the hunched over position you probably find yourself in when you’re in front of your computer or steering wheel.
  • Cat / Cow stretches.  With your hands on your thighs alternate arching and rounding your spine.  Move your entire spine- tailbone to head.  Again, use your full range of motion and exaggerate the movements.  Match your breath to the movements; inhaling to arch, exhaling to round.
  • Full spine twists.  Put one hand on the opposite thigh as you turn in that direction.  Your other hand can rest on the same thigh or you can bring it to the arm of the chair.  Sit tall, engage your belly, and breathe in your twist.  Obviously, remember to twist to the other side.  For a deeper twist, cross your legs and twist towards the top leg.
  • Side bends.  Bring both arms overhead and use one hand to grab the other wrist.  Lean up and over to the side of the hand that is doing the grasping.  Feel a long curved line from the hip up through the fingers of the side that you’re leaning away from.  This will stretch the spine and the side of your torso.  Again, remember to repeat on the other side.

If you find yourself wanting to do more seated yoga, experiment with how to do your favorite poses while seated.  There’s a way to figure out each one (well, maybe not handstand!).  Also, give yourself a seated sivasana by closing your eyes, sitting tall, and deeply breathing in and out for as long as you’d like.


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