Chair Yoga Anyone?

IMG_9783Sometimes you may find yourself in a particular place at a particular time and you feel sore, anxious, or tense.  There’s no time for you to get up and go for a walk, change your clothes to go to the gym, or take a yoga class.  Chair yoga can be a good choice to make you feel like you took a well deserved break from your day, help you refocus, or just catch your breath.  Whether you’re studying or working at your desk, sitting in a library, or a passenger on super long car ride you CAN do yoga anywhere! Unwind, refocus and rejuvenate all without doing much except allowing yourself time.

This practice can be coupled with the pranayama practice I posted yesterday, or you can do this chair yoga practice on its own.  You can also repeat the practice more that once, whenever you need it.

Below is the script I wrote out for the practice I did with faculty at my school.  It’s broken down into different stretches or poses so you can change them around or just do a couple that suit you.

Chair Yoga*
Begin by sitting in your seat so you can feel your feet on the floor. You may have to move forward a little in your chair a little to sit tall and feel your feet on the floor.

-Center/ground-
Find a place to relax your hands on your legs
Relax your shoulders away from your ears
Notice your breath
Lower your gaze or gently allow your eyelids to close
Just notice

Keeping your gaze low or eyes closed bring your awareness to the room (or your environment)
Notice the sounds, the temperature, or maybe how the light shifts
Remember just to notice, no passing judgment, or deciding if it’s good or bad
And breathe

Now bring your attention to yourself
Notice the temperature and the movement of the air on your skin
Notice how your clothes feel against your skin, just making a note if they feel soft, or scratchy
Notice how your feet feel in your shoes, do they feel snug or lose or heavy
Remember to only notice, and if anything else comes up, remind yourself you are only noticing and come back to the breath

Bring your attention to your physical body. Recognize any areas that feel tense or relaxed
If you find an area, just notice and breathe
Making sure you are not passing judgment, it’s just how you feel

Notice how you feel your energy level or how you feel today
Holding no judgment about it, just noticing

Now bring your awareness to your breath
Notice if it’s heavy or light, deep or short
Making a mental note if feels dry or not
No opinion about it, just noticing your own breath

-Pranayama Practice –
Stay focused on our breath by practicing 4 part breath
If you’d like you can place one hand on your chest and one on your belly
On your next inhale take a deep breath through the nose by inhaling into your belly, up through your rib cage and then chest
Pause at the top of your inhale
Then slowly exhale and reverse the movement by exhaling from your chest, the rib cage, and into the belly
Pause at the bottom of your exhale.

Again, inhale through your nose from your belly, rib cage, chest, and pause
Exhale through your nose from the chest, to the rib cage, into your belly , and pause
Keep going to find your own rhythm, inhale belly, rib cage, chest, pause
Exhale from your chest, rib cage, into the belly

Inhale, and when you come to your exhale see if you can create a seamless connection between the different parts of your breath and the next inhale

Inhale once more, from your belly, your ribs, into your chest, pause
Exhale from your chest, into your ribs, and belly, pause

Come back to your regular breath and just notice if anything has changed or shifted
Gently blink your eyes open

-Shoulder Stretch-
Inhale and bring your hands together in front of your chest
Extend your arms in front of you and take 3 breaths here
Flip the palms and reach your arms over your head
Notice if your shoulders creep up and try to relax them away from your ears
3 breaths

Inhale and lean to the right, extending your arms to the right, 3 breaths
Inhale come back to center, exhale can go to the left
3 breaths here
Inhale come back to center
Release your arms down so they’re resting on your legs

-Hand and Finger Stretch-
Extend your right arm in front of you, palm facing up
Using your left hand gently press your right fingers back towards you and breathe
Using the left hand gently bend each finger back toward the hand as you breathe
Switch hands and gently press your left fingers back towards you and breathe
Using the left hand gently bend each finger back toward the hand as you breathe

Release your hands and rotate your wrists in circles, going one way and then the other

-Chair Cat/Cow-
Bringing your hands to your legs, sit up tall, on an inhale, arch your back and look up
As you exhale round your back and look down.
Repeat 5 times
Come back to a neutral seat inhale arms reach up over head

-Arm and Side Stretch-
Exhale bring the right arm down and hold on to the side of your chair
Bring your left arm over to the right and take 3 breaths here
Inhale both arms come back up to center
Exhale bring the left arm down and hold on to the side of your chair
Bring your right arm over to the left and take 3 deep breaths
Inhale both arms come back to center

Exhale forward fold
Inhale reach up both arms above your head

-Twist-
Exhale arms come over to the right for a twist, 5 deep breaths here
Inhale arms to center
Exhale over to the left for a twist, 5 deep breaths
Inhale arms come back to center
Exhale bring your arms down

-Leg Stretch-
On your next inhale, bring your hands behind your left thigh
As you exhale bring your knee and nose together as you lift your knee and round your back
Hold here and take 3 deep breaths
Inhale release your leg and come back to a tall spine, exhale
Inhale and bring your hand behind your right thigh
As you exhale bring your knee and nose together as you lift your knee and round your back
Hold here and take 3 deep breaths
Inhale and release your leg and come back to a tall spine, exhale

-Hip Opener-
Make sure you can feel both feet flat on the floor
Pick up your left foot and bring it across so your foot is resting on your right knee pause here to notice how it feels
Breathe
If you ‘d like a deeper stretch, bring your hands behind you to provide some leverage, press your hands down and fold forward
Breathe here for 5 deep breaths
If you took the deeper stretch come back up from your fold
Release your left foot back to the ground

Switch sides
Pick up your right foot and bring it across so your food it resting on your left knee. Pause here to notice how it feels
Breathe
If you’d like a deeper stretch on this side, bring your hands behind you once again and fold
5 breaths here
Come back up if you folded over your legs
Then release your right foot back to the ground

-Eagle Arm Stretch-
Bring both arms in front of you, palms facing down
Cross the right elbow over the left elbow, turn your hands up and bring your palms together in front of your face, clasp hands if you can
Pause here to notice how it feels, if you’d like a deeper stretch raise your elbows and breathe
5 deep breaths

Release your hands so your arms are out in front of you again, this time cross your left elbow over the right elbow, turn your hands up and bring your palms together in front of your face, clasp your hands if you can
Pause here, notice how it feels, raise elbows up for a deeper stretch and breathe 5 deep breaths

-Final Relaxation-
Release your hands, relax your arms down on your legs
Take a deep breath, roll your shoulders down and back
Once again lower your gaze, or close your eyes and just notice how you feel
After all the movement, see if you can come back to stillness by finding your breath
Notice once again the rise and fall of your breath, notice the length of your inhale and exhale
Notice how your body feels as your breathing
Notice any sensations that you didn’t notice before
Remember there is no judgment, just noticing what you notice

Let’s close today’s practice with 3 cleansing breaths together
Inhale deeply through our noses and then exhale out through our mouth like a deep sigh

Inhale through the nose
Exhale out though the mouth
Again, Inhale
Exhale
One last time, inhale
Exhale

You have completed your chair yoga practice, feel free to practice the series again or in parts. Notice how you feel in the moment and notice any sensations or feelings that arise.  May you be happy, may you be healthy, may you be at ease with what is.

*(Remember that you are your own best judge of what feels good.  If you feel uncomfortable stop at any moment.  This is only a suggested practice.)

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