A chair has been used as a prop in a Yoga practice traditionally for many years, particularly in the Iyengar yoga tradition. In recent times, a yoga session completely supported by a chair has become quite popular and rightly so. A chair yoga practice is very inclusive while still retaining the essence of the practice. Chair yoga can be very helpful for senior adults, people undergoing any form of physical therapy, beginners looking for a gentle session, pregnant mamas and it has also gained wide popularity with corporate chair yoga sessions.
The practice is gentle, it helps to lubricate the joints, reduces stiffness in the body, and brings awareness with breath control. The chair can either be used as a prop for balance, additional support in postures, or in some cases, the entire class can be done seated on a chair with variations for different postures.
Today we will be covering atwo chair yoga sun salutations. These standing chair yoga sequences are dynamic, slightly challenging, and will be more suitable for anyone with good mobility but with some additional support from a chair.
Sun salutations comes from the ancient yogic tradition, over the years there have been different variations of it developed by yogis, experienced practitioners, and teachers with different schools of thought. The common thread is that it is a movement between a set of dynamic postures, along with synchronization of the breath. Each subsequent posture counteracts the previous one and it is a complete workout for the body. The elongation of the breath with each movement also helps to deepen the breath gradually and brings awareness in the practice.
Sun salutations, chair yoga sequences included, generate a lot of heat in the body and are ideally done at the beginning of a practice to warm up before moving to different postures (asanas). It is recommended to be on a light or empty stomach for the practice. The transition between postures becomes smooth and with much control gradually with consistent practice.
We will be covering How to do sun salutation with a chair as additional support. below. Make sure the chair is strong and stable before you start with the sequence.
Place the chair against the wall, ensure it is strong and balanced. You can place the mat facing the front of the chair. Stand approximately 1-1.5 ft distance away from the chair.
Classical Standing Chair Yoga Sun Salutation
- Place your feet shoulder-distance wide, pressing down the big toes and try to spread the weight equally along the feet. Bring your hands by the side, palms facing forward and relax your shoulders. Keep your spine upright, tuck the tailbone and take few breaths here in Mountain pose (Tadasana)
- Inhale and sweep your arms up from the sides, bringing your palms together in an upward salute. Raise the chest and shift your gaze up if comfortable.
- Exhale and swan dive your arms down into a Forward Bend (Padahastasana). Your hands can either be placed on the mat or use the chair in front of you.
- Inhale and lift halfway, lengthen the spine (hands on the chair) into Ardha Uttanasana and xxhale into a forward fold again.
- Take another breath and slowly walk your legs back into a downward dog. Press the hands on the chair firmly with your heels firmly pressing on the mat and hips lifting upward.
- Exhale into a plank using the chair, adjust your hands so that the shoulders are in line with your wrists. Take the next breath into a mini chaturanga, keeping your elbows closer to the body.
- Inhale and arch your back up into an Upward Facing Dog (Urdhvamukha Svanasana), keeping your shoulders relaxed.
- Exhale and push your hips back up into a Downward Facing Dog.
- Slowly walk forward, adjust your distance as needed into a forward fold.
- Inhale halfway lift and exhale again into a Forward Fold.
- Inhale, raise your arms up and look up in Upward Salute
- Exhale and return to Mountain Pose with the hands in Prayer
Repeat this chair yoga sequence as many times as you like as a warm up or as a stand alone practice.
Standing Chair Yoga Sun Salutation A
- Start from the Mountain pose.
- Inhale and sweep your arms up from the sides, bringing your palms together in an Upward Salute.
- Exhale and swan dive your arms down into a Forward Bend (Padahastasana) with your palms either placed on the mat or on the chair for support.
- Inhale and lift halfway, lengthen the spine and place your hands on the chair into Ardha Uttanasana and exhale into a Forward Fold.
- Inhale and step the right leg back into a high lunge with the heel lifted, continue to use the chair for support. The front knee is bent and make sure the knee is not overextending the ankle. Lift your chest up and open your heart.
- Exhale and step the left leg back into a Downward Facing Dog, pressing the heels on the mat. Keep the feet hip distance apart.
- Slowly with the next breath, come into a plank using the chair adjusting the foot distance if needed. Exhale into a mini chaturanga. Keep the elbows towards the ribcage as you bend them. Use your core, leg, and back strength to keep the body stable.
- Inhale and arch your back up into an Upward Facing dog, keeping your shoulders relaxed.
- Exhale push your hips back into a Downward Facing Dog.
- Inhale, slowly bring the right leg front again into a High Lunge.
- Exhale and bring the left leg front into a forward fold, readjusting your feet as needed.
- Inhale halfway lift and exhale again into Forward Fold.
- Inhale and raise your arms up, exhale and hands in front in prayer.
The above sequence will need to be repeated on the left leg to work on both sides for the balance.
You can complete a few rounds of each to warm up before going to different postures or do more rounds for an independent quick practice as well. Try and be focused and aware of every breath with the body movement during the practice. Being more mindful, listening to your body to go deeper into your practice.