Chair Yoga

Would you like to experience the physical and mental benefits of yoga, but don’t think you have enough mobility? Chair yoga is the perfect solution for you.
Chair Yoga
Year founded

Online Chair Yoga Classes UK

Do you want to experience the physical and mental benefits of yoga, but don’t think you have enough mobility for it? Chair yoga is the perfect solution for you. It’s a low-impact version of traditional yoga that can be done almost anywhere with just a chair. You don’t need a yoga mat or even need to change clothes.

We provide chair Yoga classes online with teachers based in the UK. You can join a live group class or organise a one-to-one livestream class for you. Our Yoga teachers who specialise in chair yoga are Poppy Sewell, Fredee Sardais, Cathy Tong, Diana Woodhead, Esme Lopez, Irina Zoteeva, and Aiste Kalinauskaite.

We also provide chair yoga sessions online or in-person for care homes, nursing homes, and retirement homes in London and the UK. Get in touch to book a yoga teacher!

Let’s explore chair yoga, who it’s for, and how it can benefit your life.

What is Chair Yoga?

Chair Yoga was officially created by Lakshmi Voelker in 1982 and is also called seated yoga, accessible yoga or adaptive yoga. Lakshmi Voelker was a yoga teacher who dedicated her life to helping everyone practice yoga, no matter their age, physical or mental conditions, or disabilities.

Chair yoga is a form of yoga practice that utilizes a chair as the main prop. This type of yoga combines traditional poses with modified postures that are done while sitting in a chair or standing with support from a chair. Chair yoga is designed to make all the benefits of traditional yoga accessible to people who may not feel comfortable on their mat or lack the balance to practice certain poses safely.

Some yoga types like Iyengar yoga use yoga chairs during their classes, along other props, but they would typically only use the chair for a few poses - not for the entire class.

Who can practice chair yoga

Chair yoga helps people with limited mobility practice yoga. Chair yoga classes are often scheduled in senior homes, but chair yoga’s audience is not reduced to older adults.

You will benefit from chair yoga if you suffer from an injury, if you are overweight, if you are stiff, if you suffer from chronic pain, if you suffer from a lack of balance, and if you are a beginner.

By removing some of the weight of the joints, practitioners can enjoy an efficient but safe practice.

Using a chair helps beginners understand how to practise poses by focusing on one aspect of the pose at a time (for example : upper body vs lower body). It also helps when you are a very stiff beginner for poses like forward fold (Uttanasana).

Chair yoga can also be practised in the office, or on a plane!

Chair Yoga for seniors

As time passes, our joints and ligaments experience inevitable changes. Over the years, joint movements can become more difficult due to a decrease in the lubricating fluid inside them as well as thinner cartilage. Additionally, ligaments become slightly tighter than before with less flexibility, which causes stiffness. Joints can become painful and in some cases, surgery like hip replacement or knee replacement can be required.

Chair yoga is a safe yoga to practise from home. You can watch Youtube videos or practise with a teacher livestream. We provide live-stream chair yoga classes on this platform.

Chair yoga is very easy to organise in care homes and retirement homes. All you need is a room big enough for everyone and normal chairs. People can also practise an adapted version while sitting in a wheelchair. Get in touch to book a yoga teacher!

The benefits of using a chair for the elderly is that :

  • You remove the issue of having to sit on the mat (and getting up!)
  • You can practice safely by holding the chair if you have balance issues, which is common as we become older
  • You can support limbs and remove the weight of your body on your joint for demanding poses like the warrior poses for example

Regarding joint replacement, our chair yoga teacher Poppy Sewell, recommends that people can start chair yoga after 5 months of a hip replacement and 6 months of a knee replacement. Starting with a gentle practice to strengthen the muscles softly (no hip rotation or weight on the knee) until the 8-9th month, then a more active practice that could include spine, arms, seated spine twist, and gentle standing pose using the chair for stability.

Getting set up: Find a chair!

You don’t have to buy a specific yoga chair, but find a chair that is sturdy and doesn't have arms. Test your chair by sitting on it. You want your feet to be flat on the floor, while sitting all to the way to the back of the chair. If your feet are not flat on the floor, use yoga blocks (or a thick book) under your feet.

Yoga chairs are useful if you often practice, as they are designed to be very stable, and they have bars in between the legs that you can grab for more grounding. You can buy them with or without the bar in the front. They also come in different heights, so if you are taller make sure you find one that fit your size!

Online Chair Yoga

As you are in a seated position, and it's 2023, it's very easy to practice chair yoga live stream: put the chair in front of the screen and follow the teacher’s instructions.

You can also find recorded chair yoga classes on YouTube or on apps. But practising live with a teacher is always recommended to avoid injuries or bad habits!

What poses can be practised on a chair?

Just about any yoga pose can be modified for chair yoga, including backbends, twists, hip openers and forward bends. You can even practice Savasana on a chair!

Here are the most common chair yoga poses you can practice:

  • Chair Raised Hands Pose - Urdhva Hastasana
  • Chair Forward Bend - Uttanasana
  • Chair Extended Side Angle - Utthita Parsvakonasana
  • Chair Eagle - Garudasana
  • Chair Spinal Twist - Ardha Matsyendrasana
  • Chair Warrior I - Virabhadrasana I
  • Chair Warrior II - Virabhadrasana II
  • Final Relaxation: Chair Savasana

Chair yoga poses Step by Step

Chair Forward Bend (Uttanasana) - Step-by-step

The classical pose is a full forward bend , kneecaps up, legs straight, hands flat on the floor outside your ankles. A very difficult pose if you are stiff, and sometimes impossible when you are far from reaching the floor.

With chair forward bend, instead of aiming for the floor, you put your wrist on the back of the chair:

  • Put your wrist on the back of the chair
  • Step back until your body reaches a 90 degrees angle.
  • Keep your head between your arms and look down
  • The work is then to extend the spine by pushing back with the top of the legs
  • You can start feet apart, and then feet together

After a bit of asanas practice, you‘ll be able to put your hands on the seat of the chair instead of the back of the chair, and one day you’ll touch the floor.

Chair Extended Side Angle (Utthita Parsvakonasana) - Step-by-step

  • Sit on the chair legs together, feet flat on the floor
  • Spread the legs on each side of the chair
  • start with the right leg: adjust your position to reach a 90 degree angle, leg flat on the chair seat, foot flat on the floor. Lower back long, tail bone in
  • Straighten the left leg to the other side of the chair. Press the heel strongly on the floor, pull the kneecap up.
  • Extend the arms sideways
  • Extend your torso on your right leg and reach out to the floor with the right arm, put your right hand on the floor behind your ankle, and hold for a bit
  • Go back to the middle, join your feet together and do the same on the left side, with the left leg and left hand on the floor

Chair Eagle (Garudasana) - Step by Step

  • Sit normally on the chair, close enough to the edge, so your feet are flat on the floor
  • Lift the right leg and cross it over the left, sticking the big toe behind the calf
  • Lift both arms at shoulder height, bend them at 90 degrees and cross the left arm over your right arm - keep the hands together
  • Lift the arms at chin level keeping the hands together, you should feel a strong stretch around the shoulder blade area
  • Release and do the other side: Lift the left leg over the right leg, and use the opposite arm (the right arm) over the left arm this time.

What are the Health Benefits of Chair Yoga?

Chair yoga has many benefits both physical health and mental health.

First chair yoga provides a gentle workout which has a same benefits as light exercise. It also provides the same benefits as yoga, with less risk of injuries.

Physically it helps improve balance and flexibility as well as strengthens your core muscles. Mentally it helps reduce stress and anxiety while promoting relaxation and mindfulness. Additionally, because most poses do not require getting up off the floor there's less risk of injury making this type of practice safer than other forms of exercise.

No matter your age or fitness level, there are numerous benefits to be gained from practicing chair yoga. Not only does it provide an effective workout without putting strain on your body, but it also promotes relaxation and mindfulness which can lead to improved overall wellbeing. So if you're looking for a convenient way to get moving without leaving home then give chair yoga a try! With just a few basic props and some free time you can reap all the rewards this gentle yet powerful form of exercise has to offer!

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