Chair Yoga

By Kaelyn Riley |

Yoga has been shown to boost mobility, reduce stress, and improve bone and joint health, muscle strength, and respiratory function.

But many yoga programs are inaccessible for people who struggle to get down on and up from the floor, or who have difficulty balancing in a standing position. This often forces those who would benefit most from yoga’s rewards — older adults and people with chronic pain or injuries — to forgo the practice.

Fortunately, it’s possible to perform poses from a seated position and still reap the benefits.

“Yoga is an ideal low-impact lifetime exercise, and a perfect approach for proactive aging,” says yoga instructor Kristin McGee, author of Chair Yoga: Sit, Stretch, and Strengthen Your Way to a Happier, Healthier You.

She offers the following spine-strengthening poses to improve posture and relieve hip and lower-back pain. Begin by sitting tall at the front edge of a sturdy seat, with your feet flat on the floor.

Seated Back Bend

“This pose will help engage the thoracic spine and counteract rounded shoulders,” McGee explains.

  1. Hold for five breaths, then return to an upright position.

Take the bend deeper and lift your hands off the chair.

Seated Figure Four

Provides a gentle stretch for the glutes and outer thighs, which McGee says can help relieve pain in the hips and lower back.

  1. Hold for five breaths, then repeat on the opposite side.

As you exhale, place both forearms on your raised shin and hinge forward at your hips, keeping a flat back.

Seated Twist

“Mobility in the spine can decrease as you age,” McGee notes. This pose will improve range of motion while strengthening the core, both of which will improve posture.

  1. Hold for five breaths, then repeat on the opposite side.

Use your inhales to sit taller and your exhales to twist farther.

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