Chances are if you’re reading this post, you’re reading it while sitting in a chair. News flash – you can use your chair for yoga. Let’s say it again with emphasis, chairs for yoga! Chairs are perfect: ubiquitous and fairly discreet. If you have difficulty getting up and down thanks to your pal, sciatica, then the chair is especially wonderful. Few coworkers or family members will blink an eye if you decide to open up your deep rotator muscles while taking a phone call (while I suspect several would openly stare if you opted for full pigeon at the office). My goal here is simple: give you techniques and openers that you can do whenever you fancy. No yoga mat required. Even better, no yoga clothes required. I frequently bust out this variation of Downward Facing Dog and Parsvottanasana at the park while my children are playing because it helps me feel better. I hope they help you, too.
YOU AND A CHAIR
Downward Facing Dog with a Chair
- Place your hands on your chair. Externally rotate the heads of your arm bones by spinning your triceps down to the ground; the eyes of your elbows will face up to the sky.
- Start to step your feet away from the chair as you bring your spine parallel to the floor. Feet will be hip-width apart with your ankles right underneath your hips.
- If your hamstrings are tight then bend your knees slightly. Check to see if your pelvis feels like it is tucking. If it is, bend your knees more and rock your pelvis so that the tailbone moves away from your navel and towards the wall behind you.
- Soften your upper back and let your head relax between your upper arms. Press your hips away from your hands to lengthen your spine.
- Breathe here for as long as feels comfortable.
- To come out, walk your feet towards your hands as you bring your spine upright.
- From downward facing dog, step one foot forward and the other foot back until you start to feel a stretch along the back of your front leg. Turn the back foot at a slight angle.
- Press down through your front big toe and contract your quadriceps. Root down through your back foot’s outer blade, engaging your back leg.
- Notice whether your hips feel level. Bring your hand onto your sacrum if you like to check. If your hips are uneven gently encourage the hips to level out.
- Breathe here for as long as appropriate.
- Return to downward facing dog. Repeat on the other side.
Pigeon on a Chair
- Sit on your chair. Check to see that your pelvis feels neutral (your ASIS, or “bikini bones,” lines up with your pubic bone) and that your lower back retains its natural curve.
- Pick up your right foot and bring your ankle on top of your left thigh. Flex your right foot strongly.
- Depending upon how things feel in your hip, you may choose to stay here. If you feel like you have more room to move and open your outer hip and glutes, then start to hinge forward from the hips. Keep your spine long.
- Breathe here.
- Repeat on the other side.