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Chair yoga is a type of mild yoga that involves sitting in a chair or using a chair to support upright and standing poses. Many chair yoga poses are modified from Hatha yoga poses, although the yoga styles are not categorized separately from one another. Chair yoga, while accessible to many people, is popular for individuals who suffer from arthritis, other injuries, or disabilities, and it is frequently practiced by senior citizens.
Some of the benefits of chair yoga include increased muscle strength, flexibility, stiffness and pain reduction, and mental and emotional well-being. Like traditional yoga, it offers opportunities for meditation and breathing exercises that can calm the mind and body, as well as more physically demanding poses to strengthen muscles. What makes this style different from traditional yoga, however, is its focus on increasing fitness, rather than developing a different lifestyle.
The supported nature of this style of yoga makes it ideal for arthritis sufferers because it will reduce the pressure placed on joints while still offering opportunities for stretching to increase flexibility and range of motion. Senior citizens can benefit from the strengthening exercises without compromising their safety and risking falls. Chair yoga has been shown to be effective for individuals with other health conditions, such as high blood pressure, multiple sclerosis (MS), vertigo, depression, and chronic syndromes like chronic fatigue syndrome and fibromyalgia. It has also been successful in both mental and physical therapy for children with cerebral palsy.
Most chair yoga moves require a sturdy chair without arms or sharp edges. This type of chair will allow for the greatest range of motion because people will need the chair to support their legs during certain poses. Common yoga gear and yoga mats are generally not required, and many people are able to practice chair yoga with their shoes on, at a desk, or in another everyday setting. As long as there is enough surrounding space without extra furniture, the poses can be practiced safely.
Some of the most popular poses include forward bends and twists that use the chair for additional support. Seated sun salutations, sometimes known as sun poses, incorporate many aspects of flow yoga while allowing practitioners to remain seated. This pose involves inhaling and lifting the arms over the head, then exhaling and placing the palms on the floor, and the movements are closely tied to breathing patterns. Side stretches, twists, and leg raises are also popular poses that involve coordinating motion with the breath.
This article does a fine job of describing chair yoga. Having created chair yoinstructor in 1982, I can say that it works wonders for all levels of practitioners from kids in classrooms to office workers to all the groups described in the article. --Lakshmi V.