What is Chair Yoga?


what is chair yoga?

My mom has been on a self-care kick lately, which has included getting massages and visiting the chiropractor. I’m really proud of her, because she’s making her health and wellness a priority. We all want our loved ones to take care of themselves and feel good, right?

I wanted to take advantage of her momentum and get her to try out her first yoga class (ever!). I love my mom and wanted her to experience some of the benefits of yoga I have experienced (like stress relief, better sleep, and reduced anxiety).

My mom does have some health issues and pains that would have prevented her enjoying a regular yoga class. Luckily, the local yoga studio I’m currently checking out with an unlimited monthly class pass (thanks to my sweet husband) offers a chair yoga class once a week! I asked mom if she would check it out if we went together and she said yes! Yay!

Chair yoga was brand new to me, and it might be to you as well. Here’s some more information about the practice.

What is chair yoga?

Simply put, chair yoga is yoga performed while seated in a chair, or while standing and holding on to a chair.

According to my extensive research (ahem, googling), chair yoga was invented by a yoga instructor by the name of Lakshmi Voelker in 1982. She created it after one of her long time students was struck by arthritis and could no longer get down on their yoga mat to practice. You can read more about Lakshmi here, if you’re interested.

Who is it for?

Chair yoga would be a great option for those who are not able to participate in regular yoga classes. This includes people who have problems with balance, difficulty getting up and down off the floor, arthritis, weight issues, limited mobility, and high blood pressure. Always check with your doctor first, of course. (Most of my information here comes from Lakshmi Voelker’s Get Fit Where You Sit website).

Traditional yoga for me is sometimes hard on my wrists, so chair yoga is a nice way to give them a break.

Chair yoga is a great choice for seniors, or for beginners who are trying yoga for the first time.

Yogis who spend a lot of time seated (like office workers and frequent flyers) should also check it out! The poses you learn in chair yoga class can then be used while seated at your desk, or during a long plane flight.

What should I bring to class?

So … do I bring my own chair? Yes, that silly question did cross my mind. Most likely, the yoga instructor will provide the chairs (call ahead and ask before your first class just in case!).

However, you do still need a yoga mat (whoops, I didn’t bring mine!). Your mat will go underneath your chair, offering extra traction and support.

You may also want to bring along a sweater and/or socks to chair yoga class. Your body might not get as hot as it does during a traditional class, and it’s nice to have something on hand if you start feeling cold.

How can I find a class?

Chair yoga might be offered at your local yoga studio, or gym. Check senior centers, hospitals, and parks and recreation departments as well. If it’s not currently offered in your area – request it!

Who is it NOT for?

Time to be honest – I thought chair yoga would be too easy and I wouldn’t get much out of the class. I was wrong! I felt challenged by many of the poses, because my body was doing things it had never done before. I got a workout from the class, especially for my arms and shoulders. So chair yoga is for everyone! Check it out if you have the chance. You’ll be glad you tried something new.

And just for fun, here’s a Yoga with Adriene video, where she teaches you how to fit a tiny bit of yoga in while you’re stuck on a plane!

Have you every tried chair yoga?

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  1. I had scoliosis surgery and my doctors said “No Yoga” because it is bad for the spine with the twisting and bending. It there another form of yoga for those of us who have had back surgery?

    • I think the best thing in that case Stormie would be to work closely with an experienced yoga teacher! She/he could help you to avoid any twisting or bending poses that might be bad for your back! Definitely follow your doctor’s advice!

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