What is chair yoga and is it for me?

What is chair yoga and is it for me?

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Now one thing I have found as an Exercise Physiologist and Yoga Teacher, is that a traditional yoga practice is not necessarily for everyone. It can be challenging to participate actively, particularly for those with inflammatory conditions, joint issues, mobility issues, or even those that just struggle to get into different positions, like being on the ground.

But I believe yoga is for everyone! So what I've started doing earlier in the year is teaching chair yoga sessions...

How is chair yoga different to a normal yoga class?

Now these sessions are gentler, more accessible and they don't involve a lot of joint loading. The chair can help with balance and it helps to take a bit of pressure off the joints so it makes the practise a little bit less irritating for those with issues in their joints. 

How do I modify things in a chair yoga class?

The chair allows me to modify a number of movements so that they are a bit easier on the wrists, on the knees and on the joints.

So to start off with, instead of a traditional downward facing dog, we often use the chair as a bit of a prop. Instead of loading through the wrists like you normally would, the chair allows us to access the same stretch,  just in a less loaded position.

Another example is a crescent lunge. Normally, in this position here, balance can be a real challenge, and some can also struggle with a bit of pressure in the knees. So what we do, is we use the chair just to give us a little bit of support and so with our hands onto the chair, we don't need to worry about balance so much.

Last alternative, instead of a traditional Warrior II where you sink nice and low into your hips, we bring ourselves onto the chair so you can hold the chair for some support. The other option for this particular movement is that you can actually sit on the chair itself.

So it's a lot less loading, a lot more support, and you don't have to worry so much about balance. These sessions can make yoga more accessible for those who have issues with their joints, or any issues with inflammation throughout the body.

What do I need to give it a go?

Now, our sessions involve a chair. You will need a little bit of space around you and then just yourself so really not equipment heavy. That's it!

So if you ever wanted to try yoga and were a little apprehensive about how it would go, then perhaps chair yoga could be a nice way to start. I hope this blog piece has shown that there are some easy ways we can modify things in our sessions to make it easier for you to access and enjoy.

If you are curious, why not check out our virtual exercise timetable and come and join me for a chair yoga session :) I'd love to see you join in! A number of my clients with rheumatic disease have found it a great way to introduce themselves to yoga and enjoy the benefits!

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