Friday Flow 9 – Seated Chair Yoga

Tiny Practice in a Tiny Space

Imagine this familiar is this scene. You are sitting in a meeting, on a long flight, stuck in a cubicle or on conference call. You desperately want to stretch your body or de-stress, but the yoga space is less than ideal. What do you you do? There are plenty of scenarios where it is simply not possible to roll out a yoga mat. There are also times when you haven’t exactly planned for a practice. Don’t let it discourage you. Carve out some time between other tasks and do a quick seated session. You don’t need floor space or an outfit change. All you need is your body and the chair you are sitting on.

<<skip the guidelines and jump straight to the chair routine>>

Why Seated Yoga

As mentioned above, there are specific times a seated yoga routine comes in handy: during travel, sitting in an office, stuck in a waiting room, etc. Like it or not, we spend a lot of our time in chairs. Turn that situation into a positive. Practice where your are.The addition of a chair routine can help you work in a meditation and short set of asanas. A perfect way to re-focus during the day.

When the Body is Limited

Now for a word of caution. MY chair yoga routine is designed for the able bodied.

I’ve noticed chair yoga often advertised as an alternative for the injured, elderly or people with limited mobility. This is not my take. I am going to go against the grain here—but I think that idea is actually harmful. It reeks of cute marketing to get more people into group yoga classes. Yes, I can here chair yoga advocates now, rolling their eyes. But here me out. Have you ever seen some of the asanas suggested in a chair yoga class? Go google it. I’ll wait.

Even whilst seated, some of the stretches proposed in chair yoga can be intense or require weird balancing acts.  Why are we trying to do full lotus on a chair? Please, do sit on the ground. No need to perch on a small table where you may topple and fall. If you have physical challenges, it is more than enough to try some asanas. You don’t need the added obstacle of a chair. Take the time to get to know your own body, without navigating a large object or trying to balance around it. I think people in these cases might be better served to work with a yoga instructor, evaluate their specific limitations and build a floor routine around that. The chair itself will not help you, if you can not move in many ways. The chair is not a sturdy as the floor. The chair may give false confidence and hinder your connection to your body.

Again On The Subject of Chairs

Guys, this should go without saying, but please consider the chair you are in. Is it suitable? Office chairs often have wheels! They can move out from beneath you in mid stretch, causing embarrassment or injury. Stick to chairs with sturdy legs or a stable base. If you are on a hard wood chair, you can fold up a blanket or sweater and place it on the seat for added comfort.

Keep It Playful, Not Wild

Ok. You’ve read the warnings and you are ready to go. Now take a look at your space. If you are sitting next to people, be mindful on the big arms sweeps. Avoid knocking out your neighbors. It’s not very Namaste.

  • If you have space in front, try sweeping arms forward and up instead of out to the sides
  • If space is limited to you front and sides, pull your arms in to your chest and then shoot upwards to the sky
  • If you are in a quiet space with others, Skip the Ujjayi breath. Quiet deep breaths are still beneficial.

About This Weeks Yoga Flow

No props, but the chair.
The directions are a single image file with stick figures. You can open the image on your mobile or bring it up on a monitor as a reference.

Sit up straight in your chair and roll your shoulders back. Ground your feet. At this point you may want to “Walk yourself” through a breathing exercise by repeating a silent script in your head.

> Inhale, filling chest, belly. Nurture my body
< Exhale any tension.

Flow Routine

Technical Updates

This weeks routine is not using the sequence handouts, as my trial period has expired. Overall, I have really enjoyed their service. However, I still want to research other services and I am not certain Tummee is the best long term sequencing solution for me. I am not too excited about the monthly subscription model, especially for my purposes. Even at deep discount Tummee is $70/year. There is more out there to explore before I make that commitment. Stay tuned for future service reviews and a blog post for comparisons.

Until then, perhaps more stick figures?


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