I've been leading chair yoga sessions regularly since the pandemic, and it has become an area of focus and interest. I started teaching yoga in an adult care centre for people with learning disabilities, adaptation was what I started with. Chair yoga offers a modified approach to traditional yoga, making it more accessible for individuals with various physical limitations, especially if transitioning to the floor presents a challenge. By practicing yoga while seated or using a chair for support, participants can enjoy a range of benefits tailored to their specific needs.
One of the primary advantages of chair yoga is its suitability for those with limited mobility. This modification eliminates the challenges associated with getting up and down from the floor, allowing individuals to engage comfortably in the practice, and learning to use the chair for balance and confidence can be very rewarding.
Chair yoga incorporates gentle stretches and movements that contribute to improved flexibility. Participants can gradually enhance their range of motion through these accessible exercises, and I have seen some wonderful results from people's mobility of shoulder, neck, and hips.
The practice places a significant emphasis on the connection between breath and movement, fostering relaxation and stress reduction. This aspect makes chair yoga particularly beneficial for individuals dealing with chronic stress or anxiety. It is my experience that grounding people in physical movement, followed by breath awareness, opens the door for more meditative practices.
Chair yoga includes exercises targeting various muscle groups, promoting strength and stability. This is especially valuable for individuals who may find traditional weight-bearing exercises challenging. For example, we can build certain poses to bear weight on the chair or begin to transition to full weight bearing.
Awareness of posture is a key component of chair yoga, encouraging participants to be aware of their body alignment. This awareness contributes to improved spinal alignment and a reduction in discomfort associated with poor posture.
Chair yoga is designed to be inclusive, catering to people of all ages and fitness levels. It provides a welcoming option for seniors, individuals with disabilities, folks who sit a lot, and those in the process of recovering from injuries. Requiring only a sturdy chair, chair yoga is a convenient option for home practice or settings where traditional yoga props may not be readily available.
You can find a couple of free chair yoga classes on the Kilted Yoga App.