This week our exploration of chair yoga centers around the feet, legs and hips. Keeping the ankles supple and healthy is key for balance and may help with edema and neuropathy in the legs and feet. Gentle hip opening may prevent lower back pain caused from too much sitting. And check out the fully supported versions of Warrior I and Warrior II that anyone can do, even if your balance is not what is used to be. Enjoy!
Extend right leg forward. As you inhale dorsi flex the ankle. As you exhale, plantar flex the ankle. Repeat 10 times to each side.
Benefits: Alternately stretches and contracts calf and shin muscles
Extend right leg and rotate the ankle clockwise 5 times. Try to draw a circle with the big toe. Repeat with the left ankle. Then return to the right ankle and rotate counter clockwise 5 times. Repeat with the left ankle.
Benefits: Removes stagnant energy from ankles and feet
Write the Alphabet
Using the big toe of each foot, write the alphabet in lowercase cursive letters, begin with your dominant toe and then move to your non-dominant toe.
Benefits: Maintains strong neural connections between the brain and the feet
Extend right knee as you inhale and release foot to floor as you exhale, As you are extending the knee, contract the lower quadriceps muscle and keep the abdomen engaged to protect the low back. Repeat to each side 5 times with the breath.
Benefits: Strengthens the quadriceps
Wind Relieving Pose in Chair
Sit away from the back of the chair. Clasp the hands behind the right thigh and as you exhale, draw the thigh towards the torso. As you inhale lengthen the arms and extend the leg away from the torso, lifting the foot upwards and plantar flexing the ankle. Repeat 5 times with the breath to each side.
Benefits: Stretches the hamstrings, massages the abdominal organs,
Thread the Needle in Chair
Sit away from the back of the chair. Bring right outer ankle onto the top of the left knee, keep dorsi flexion in right ankle throughout the entire posture.
Variation 1: As you inhale, externally rotate the thigh away from the belly. As you exhale, internally rotate the thigh towards the belly. Use the right hand to help support the leg through this movement.
Variation 2: With the thigh externally rotated, use the right hand to roll the upper thigh outward. Do not press down on the inner aspect of the knee.
Variation 3: Ground hips into chair and lean torso forward, extending the navel up and away from the pubic bone. If you are flexible, you may relax the upper body forward over the right leg, be sure there is no pain in the knee.
Standing Lunge in Chair
Stand in front of seat of chair. Place hands on chair seat and step right foot forward, left foot back. Bend right knee toward seat and press into left ball of foot keeping heel off floor and all ten toes facing forward. Keep the hips square towards the chair seat, Hold 5 breaths. Step back leg forward to release. Repeat to other side.
Benefits: Stretches muscles around hip, calves and hamstrings.
Stand in front of the chair seat with feet wide apart. As you inhale lift the arms out front he shoulders. As you exhale bring left hand to the seat, twisting the torso to the right. Inhale and return to center with arms outstretched. Exhale and bring right hand to seat, turning torso to the left. Repeat 10 times with the breath.
Benefits: Strengthens core, especially the obliques.
Downward Facing Dog on Chair
Adho Mukha Svanasana
Stand facing the chair seat. Grasp the sides of the seat and step both feet back and extend the arms overhead. Heels are under the hips and heels grounded on the floor. Bend the knees if the lower back rounds, try to keep the spine extended as much as possible. Reach the arms and do not allow the head to drop below the upper arms.
Warrior II on Chair
Sit to the side with only the right thigh on the seat of chair, keep torso facing forward. Extend the left leg out to the left with the foot slightly forward of the pelvis. Reach arms out up to shoulder's height and elongate the spine towards the head. Hold for 5-10 breaths per side.
Benefits: Strengthens the core and shoulders, stretches the inner thigh of the back leg, appropriate for those with balance issues.
Warrior I on Chair
Sit to the side with only the right thigh on the seat of chair, turn the torso to face the right. Extend the left leg back with the toes turned under. Lean slightly forward and strongly extend through the back leg. Use the hands on the seat to push the torso up drawing up through the abdomen as the torso moves into a backbend. Either hold right hand on chair back and lift left arm overhead, or lift both arms overhead. Hold for 5-10 breaths per side.
Benefits: Strengthens the back and stretches the psoas and front of spine. Appropriate for those with balance issues.
Chair Assisted Shoulderstand
Lie on floor with standard folded blanket under shoulders, head on the floor. Hips are in front of chair, feet on front edge of seat. Bring arms to the sides with palms down and press arms into floor as you lift hips upward. Lengthen thighs toward knees and tailbone towards backs of knees. Move up and down with the breath 3-5 times, inhaling as you lift, exhaling as you lower. Then hold for 5-10 breaths.
One Legged Variation: Extend one leg towards the ceiling at at time, hold for 5-10 breaths per side.
Benefits: Strengthens core, stretches chest, shoulders & neck.
Instant Maui on High Blocks
Lie on back with legs in the seat of a chair. Lift pelvis off floor and place block or a folded blanket under pelvis. Place arms away from sides and palms up. Rest 15 minutes.
Therapeutics: Induces relaxation response, reduces swelling of feet and legs, relaxes lower back
Contraindications: High Blood Pressure
I attend Cheryl's class regularly and feel that my practice has improved immensely over the past few years due to her expert coaching. Her teaching style is clear and compassionate and her previous experience in teaching adults is evident in her organized approach and easy to understand instructions. I also appreciate that Cheryl not only teaches us about how to correctly position ourselves, but also touches on many aspects of yoga philosophy, which in turn has deepened my personal practice and heightened my awareness of the connection between mind and body, breath and relaxation.