How often have you been stuck at your desk working on a demanding project, wishing you could be at your favorite yoga class?
Well, did you know it is totally possible to do an entire yoga session while seated at your desk?
Yes, that’s right, thanks to chair yoga, you can find your zen with tree pose and get an instant energy boost with Warrior 2 without standing up!
Most chair yoga poses are standard yoga postures, modified to do while sitting on a chair. In this sense, the chair serves as a prop, creating stability and taking weight off the lower body.
Don’t put up with tight shoulders and lower back pain from long work days anymore. Read on to discover 14 simple chair yoga postures you can do anytime at work or home.
- 1 Who Is Chair Yoga Good For?
- 2 14 Chair Yoga Postures For Beginners
- 2.1 Seated Mountain Pose
- 2.2 Seated Neck Stretch
- 2.3 Seated Cat Cow Pose
- 2.4 Seated Side Bend
- 2.5 Chair Warrior 2
- 2.6 Chair Extended Side Angle
- 2.7 Eagle Arms
- 2.8 Chair Tree Pose
- 2.9 King Arthur’s Pose
- 2.10 Chair Pigeon Pose/ Seated Figure 4
- 2.11 Seated Bound Angle Pose
- 2.12 Seated Twist
- 2.13 Chair Forward Bend
- 2.14 Happy Baby
- 3 Final Thoughts On Chair Yoga Poses
Who Is Chair Yoga Good For?
While anyone can do chair yoga, it was designed for people with a lack of mobility, such as seniors. What’s excellent about chair yoga is that it modifies many of the typical standing yoga poses and allows you to do them without putting weight on your legs.
Thus, for older adults or those with injuries that make standing up difficult, chair yoga is an excellent way to get the incredible benefits of yoga in a totally safe way.
However, chair yoga is also great for office workers who want to stretch their bodies during the workday but cannot leave their desks. Rather than doing a full chair yoga sequence, you can practice a few chair yoga poses during a short break or even while on the phone.
Chair yoga may not be as physically strengthening or challenging as a Vinyasa or Ashtanga yoga class. However, it still has plenty of benefits for your physical and mental health, such as:
- Opening and releasing tension in tight muscles
- Improving mobility in the joints
- Easing chronic pain and improving pain management skills
- Increasing balance and proprioception (body awareness)
- Enhancing blood flow
- Reducing stress, fatigue, and anxiety
- Promoting a sense of calm and peace
14 Chair Yoga Postures For Beginners
Want to give chair yoga at go at home or even in the office? Try this simple chair yoga sequence that gently stretches and strengthens your entire body.
Seated Mountain Pose
Before any chair yoga for beginners practice, take a few moments to find the correct posture in the seated mountain pose. This foundational posture will help you find a neutral spine and learn the starting position for most other chair yoga poses.
- Press your feet firmly into the ground and let your hands rest on your thighs.
- Root your sit bones into the chair.
- Sit up tall, imagining a string attached to the top of your head, pulling you up.
- Relax your shoulders away from your ears.
- Focus on your breathing, consciously slowing and deepening it with each inhale and exhale.
Seated Neck Stretch
A seated neck stretch is one of the most simple chair yoga poses to start your session. This is also a fab one-off yoga stretch for doing at your desk, especially after sitting for long periods.
It releases tension in the neck and increases elasticity in the cervical spine area, resulting in improved flexibility.
To do this stretch, sit up straight, then drop your right ear to your right shoulder. If this creates enough sensation, stay here. Otherwise, place your right hand over the left ear to deepen the stretch, creating some gentle pressure. Hold for 5 to 10 breaths, then repeat on the left side.
Seated Cat Cow Pose
If you’re doing the neck stretch at your desk, follow it with a seated cat-cow pose. This asana stretches the back and chest and releases tension in the lumbar spine.
Seated cat-cow stretches the spine and neck to release stagnated energy or flow. It also opens the lungs, promoting deeper breathing and improving posture and balance.
- From an upright position, bring your arms out to the side in a Cactus pose (elbows bent and palms facing forwards).
- Inhale deeply and draw your elbows back to open the chest while arching the back.
- Exhale to pull the elbows and shoulders forward, rounding the spine and bringing the chin to the chest in cat pose.
- Alternate between these two movements for at least 5 rounds. Move slowly, feeling each part of the spine extending on the inhale and flexing on the exhale.
Note that you can also do these spinal movements with the hands on the knees, as shown in the photo above.
Seated Side Bend
After opening the back and the chest, do a seated side bend to open the side body and ribs by stretching the side obliques and intercostal muscles. Side bending also increases lung capacity and improves circulation and posture.
- Sit up tall, lengthening the spine, feet firmly on the ground.
- Bring your right hand to the side of the chair and inhale to sweep your left arm up overhead.
- Take a deep breath here, then on your next exhale, reach your left hand over to the right side until you feel a good stretch in the left side body.
- Hold for 5 breaths, then repeat on the other side.
Chair Warrior 2
Once you have opened the upper body with a few warm-up poses, you can move into some hip openers. One posture you probably did not expect to find in Chair yoga is warrior 2! Yet it is entirely possible to practice this famous asana on a chair. Here’s how:
- Come to the front edge of your seat and sit upright.
- Bend your right knee to the side, turning the toes out and planting the sole of the foot on the ground.
- Stretch your left leg out behind and press down through your outer heel.
- Bring your arms straight in line with your shoulders and look to your right hand.
- Hold for five breaths, then repeat on the opposite side.
Chair Extended Side Angle
From Warrior 2, move into an extended side angle pose to stretch the side body and open the chest further.
- Keeping your legs in the same position as warrior 2, lower your right hand to a block by your right foot (or grab onto the chair leg).
- As you inhale, sweep your left arm up and over. Draw the shoulder back to open the chest and look up.
- Breathe into your side body for five breaths.
The Eagle arm posture is a fantastic way to stretch the shoulders and upper back. This posture opens the back of the chest and rib cage while contracting the front of the chest and stimulating the respiratory system.
- Reach both arms straight in front of you. Bring the right arm under the left and bend the elbows, moving the hands toward the ceiling.
- Draw your hands away from your face and gently pull them up to draw the shoulder blades away from each other.
- Take 5 deep breaths here, then release and bind the arms opposite, bringing the left arm under the right arm.
Chair Tree Pose
You might know a tree pose as balancing on one leg, but it is possible to modify it to do it from a seated position. It may not test your balance as much, but it improves your posture and evokes concentration while gently stretching the inner hips.
- Come to the front edge of your chair and extend your left leg directly in front of you. Plant the sole of the foot down with the toes pointing forwards.
- Bend your opposite leg and bring your right knee to the side with the heel lifted off the floor.
- Keep your hips facing forwards and place your hands in prayer at the heart center. Sit tall and take 5 breaths, fixing your gaze on one point in front of you.
King Arthur’s Pose
King Arthur’s pose stretches the psoas and hip flexors while lengthening the quad. In addition, this posture improves general flexibility in the lower body, which will help you go deeper in hip openers and forward bends.
Move your sit bones to the edge of your chair, then bend your left knee. Next, grab the outside of the left foot or ankle, drawing the foot towards your sitting bones. Sit tall and hold for at least five breaths before repeating with the right leg.
Chair Pigeon Pose/ Seated Figure 4
The chair pigeon pose opens and stretches the outer hip flexors and glutes. You can stay upright or bend forward to deepen the sensation.
Bend your right leg, turning the knee out to the side. Place the right ankle over your left thigh and gently press the right knee down, so the lower leg is parallel to the ground.
Seated Bound Angle Pose
There are a few ways you can do a butterfly pose on a chair. First, for those who are very flexible, shift your hips to the back of the chair, bend both knees out to the side, and bring the soles of the feet together, resting on the chair.
For those with limited flexibility or who want a gentle stretch to the inner hips, keep your feet on the floor and drop your knees open to the sides. Then, turn the soles towards each other so the sides of the feet are on the ground.
You can also use additional props like blocks or bolsters under the feet to raise your feet and deepen the stretch.
The seated twist is a lovely pose at the end of your chair yoga session, as it neutralizes the spine after all the extension and flexion. Sit sideways on your chair with both feet facing the side. Bring the leg closest to the back of the chair other the other leg, crossing the thighs.
Sit tall and take a deep breath in. As you exhale, slowly twist your body towards the back of the chair and grab onto the backrest while you hold the twist for three to five breaths. When you release, turn your body to the other side to gently twist the other way.
Chair Forward Bend
Like all forward folds, this modified chair forward bend is highly calming to the mind and can help to reduce fatigue, stress, and headaches while improving sleep quality and feelings of relaxation.
- From the edge of your chair, plant your feet flat on the floor with the legs together and knees bent at a 90-degree angle.
- Take a deep breath as you sit tall, then exhale to bend forward from the hips, folding your torso over your thighs.
- Let your head fall, releasing any tension in the neck. Reach your arms down to your toes and hold for 5 to 10 breaths.
Finish your chair yoga session with a deep hip stretch and rejuvenating posture, happy baby.
- Start from the forward bend position. Open the feet and knees until they are slightly wider than hip-distance.
- Lift your upper body halfway, like coming into a halfway lift (your spine should be parallel to the floor, as shown in the photo).
- Thread your hands between your legs and grab to the outside of the calves of your ankles. Bend the elbows and hold for 5 breaths, keeping the back and neck straight.
Final Thoughts On Chair Yoga Poses
Thanks to chair yoga, you can do your favorite yoga postures wherever you are without even needing to roll out your yoga mat. To learn more chair yoga poses, check out the book “Chair Yoga: Sit, Stretch, and Strengthen Your Way to a Happier, Healthier You” by Kristin McGee.