I filmed this video on Halloween, so I’m wearing my Dragon Ball Z Gohan costume, I even got the Super Saiyan hair! Hope you guys had a Happy Halloween!
In this post I’m going to talk about some exercises you can do from a chair. Some of these are chair yoga inspired, and some of these are just exercises that you do using a chair.
One of the things that I realized working on this project and going through all these different chair exercises is that a lot of the exercises are surprisingly challenging. So even if you are confined to a chair, you can still get a pretty good workout with a lot of these exercises.
If you’re looking for more chair-based yoga check out my program specifically designed for elders, seniors, or people who really struggle with mobility. Check it out here.
The exercise featured here are some of the most challenging exercises that I found using a chair. Some of these exercises are appropriate for people with a lower-body injury – maybe you had a hip replacement recently, maybe you have a broken foot, etc. At the same time, some of these exercises just use a chair as a prop, and they might not be appropriate for everybody. I recommend having a block nearby for some of these exercises.
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7 Chair Yoga Pose Exercises
1. Boat Pose Variations
Benefits: Challenges your core strength, mainly your transverse abdominals, and your hip strength.
- Make sure that your chest is pointing toward the ceiling, keeping the back straight.
- You can lift one leg up and then the other leg, switching back and forth to make this more challenging.
- To intensify the challenge even further, lift both legs up.
- You can also put a block between your thighs to increase your adductor engagement.
Reps/Duration: Hold those for 30 seconds, or complete alternating one-legged reps for 30 seconds, holding it for five seconds at a time and then switching to the other leg.
2. Box Squats*
Benefits: Strengthens your glutes, your core, and your hip flexors. A box squat just means that you’re sitting down onto a box, in this case the chair, and doing squats. *not appropriate for leg injury
- Sit down in the chair and then keep your chest up right. When you’re going down, you want to hit the chair almost by surprise. It’s not the same movement as when you sit down with the expectation of sitting down in a chair.
- Keep your chest upright and sit down as slowly as possible. When you stand up, drive your hips forward and tighten your glutes.
- Lower down on a four or five second count, and when you get to the bottom, drive up in one second.
Reps/Duration: Complete 3 sets of 10 reps
3. Reverse Plank on a Chair
Benefits: The reverse plank is a really good exercise for strengthening your entire posterior chain, but it’s pretty challenging to do from a from the ground so one way that you can make it a little bit easier is by using a chair.
- Plant your feet below your knees. Put your hands on the seat of the chair, holding firm onto the chair. Lift your hips off the ground, driving down through your feet and keeping your chest lifted. You basically want to try and make a straight line from your knees to your shoulders.
Reps/Duration: You can do an isometric hold to work on your isometric glute strength or make this a dynamic movement where you’re actually doing hip thrusts.
Benefits: Dips with a chair are an easier variation then using a dip bar, so if you’re looking for something easier but something that still works your triceps and your in your chest this is a good exercise.
- When you are performing the dips, you want to focus on squeezing your elbows and your shoulder blades toward one another, making sure the elbows aren’t coming out to the side.
- You can make it more challenging by putting more weight into your feet or bringing your legs out straight and resting on the backs of your heels.
Reps/Duration: You can do as many as you want to challenge yourself. Just be sure to focus on slow, controlled movement.
Benefits: The chaturanga, or the yoga push-up, can be performed with a chair if you don’t quite have the strength in your upper body to do a full yoga push-up. This version can also be helpful for those with wrist pain in a traditional plank position, because holding on to a chair helps to protect and strengthen your wrist.
- For full range on motion and a sturdier base, flip the chair over to perform this exercise.
Reps/Duration: 2 sets of 5 reps
6. Seated Bicycle
Benefits: Bicycle is an excellent core strengthening exercise. It will also work to strengthen your hip flexors.
- Bring your hands behind your neck and sit up nice and tall. Lift one leg up with the other foot planted, and then twist toward that side. Switch sides. Inhale to come back to the middle and exhale as I turn to the side.
- This is a slow, controlled movement; going back and forth quickly won’t help you build strength.
- You can make this more challenging by bringing both feet off the ground, similar to a boat pose.
Reps/Duration: Perform this exercise for 1 minute, completing 10 to 20 reps on each side.
7. Seated Figure Four
Benefits: Seated figure four is really good for your hips and helps if you have any sort of sciatic pain or sciatica discomfort. Figure four helps to stretch your piriformis which, when tight, places pressure on that sciatic nerve.
- Make a figure four with your legs, crossing one ankle over the opposite thigh. Sit up as tall as possible and then hinge forward until you feel a stretch in your hips.
- Be sure to not just fold forward, but actually bring your chest as far forward as possible (think chest to the wall not chest to the ground).
Reps/Duration: Hold for 30 to 60 seconds on each side.
About the author, Dean Pohlman, Founder & CEO of Man Flow Yoga, Author of Yoga Fitness for Men, Expert on Yoga Fitness for Men.
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