Chair Yoga: Simple Techniques to Relieve Stress and Relax
Relaxation and Grounding
To begin, find a chair without sides and take a seat with your feet flat on the ground about hip distance apart. Sit up tall, relax your shoulders, and close your eyes. Take a deep breath in through your nose, and as you exhale, feel your body relax. Continue to breathe smoothly and deeply through your nose throughout the practice to invite a sense of peace and grounding.
Neck and Shoulder Release
Lower your right ear towards your right shoulder, feeling a gentle stretch along the left side of your neck and shoulder. Keep your eyes closed and focus on the sensation. After a few breaths, return to center and repeat on the other side. This stretch helps release tension in the neck and shoulders, promoting relaxation.
Next, we'll move into a seated cat-cow pose to wake up your spine and release tension. Inhale as you roll your chest forward, lift your chin, and open your shoulders. Exhale as you round your spine, tuck your chin, and press your shoulder blades back. Repeat this movement a few times, syncing your breath with the movement. These spinal waves can be done throughout the day to keep your spine mobile and relieve tension.
For a deep relaxation pose, we'll move into a ragdoll fold from the chair. Take your feet wider for stability and use your hands to walk your upper body forward, lowering down towards the ground. Let your head hang heavy and relax your upper body. This pose is extremely relaxing and helps calm the mind. It's a great pose to do before bed if you're having trouble calming down.
Twists and Stretches
After the ragdoll fold, come back to a seated position and add a gentle twist. Place your right hand on your left knee and your left hand on the back of the chair. Turn your upper body to the left, keeping your hips grounded. Take a few breaths in this twist, then return to center and repeat on the other side. Twists are great for releasing tension in the spine and promoting digestion.
Tricep Stretches and Chest Expansion
Next, we'll stretch the triceps and open up the chest. Reach your left arm up overhead and bend at the elbow, reaching your right hand up to grab onto your left elbow. Feel the stretch in your tricep and keep your chin up to maintain a neutral spine. You can also add a side bend to open up your side body. Repeat on the other side. After the tricep stretches, interlace your fingers behind your back and lift your chest, rolling your shoulders back. This chest expansion pose helps counteract the hunched posture many of us have from sitting for long periods.
Bear Hug and Chest Expansion
For a final stretch, we'll do a bear hug and another chest expansion. Cross your arms with your left elbow underneath your right and grab onto your shoulders. Feel the stretch in your upper back. You can also try a traditional eagle arms variation by crossing at your wrists. This intensifies the stretch between your shoulders and shoulder blades. Release your arms and grab onto the back of the chair, lifting your chest and rolling your shoulders back for a chest expansion. Take a deep breath in and out, feeling the openness in your chest.
Return to a seated position with your hands on your thighs and take a moment to settle in. Rub your hands together to create heat and energy, then cup your hands over your eyes to create darkness. Soften your gaze and let the darkness soak in, allowing yourself to enter a state of deep relaxation. Take a few moments to breathe and let go of any tension or stress.
Slowly release your hands and bring them together at heart center. From this place of peace within me to this place of peace within you, namaste. Well done.
Chair yoga is a wonderful way to incorporate movement and relaxation into your day, especially if you have limited mobility or prefer a seated practice. It offers numerous benefits, including stress relief, increased flexibility, and improved posture. By practicing these simple techniques regularly, you can enhance your overall well-being and promote a sense of calm and relaxation.