Chair Yoga & Mindful Movement At Work

Man doing chair yoga at work

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Chair Yoga & Mindful Movement At Work

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When most of us think of yoga, we think about laying out a mat and contorting our limbs in different ways. But, while mat yoga is certainly beneficial, there’s a different kind of mindful movement that’s gaining popularity and can be done at work- chair yoga.

Chair yoga is exactly what it sounds like- yoga incorporating a chair. Whether you’re an advanced yogi or completely new to the practice, this type of yoga can be beneficial to you.

But, what exactly is chair yoga? What are the benefits of chair yoga? Check out this guide to learn everything you need to know about chair yoga and mindful movement.

What is Office Chair Yoga?

Chair yoga is a type of yoga therapy that was originally created by Lakshmi Voelker-Binder in 1982. Typically, the poses are adaptations of modern yoga poses, and they either involve sitting on the chair or standing up and using the chair for support.

Voelker-Binder originally developed this type of yoga after noticing that one of his pupils in her 30s was unable to perform traditional floor poses due to arthritis.

Chair yoga

What is Mindful Movement?

Mindful movement in an umbrella term for any type of movement, practiced with focused attention on the body and physical sensations.

Certain movements or sports (ex. Qigong, Tai Chi) may lend themselves more to this category but it truly could be any movement at all!

We use the term mindful movement to describe any of our onsite mindfulness classes that include movement. Even something as simple as stretching the arms over your head.

These small movements, when practiced with care and attention to the sensations of the body have a ton of physiological and mental benefits.

Is Chair Yoga Considered Mindful Movement?

YES! In the corporate wellness world, chair yoga is the perfect example of mindful movement brought to life.

We use very simple postures and stretches from the chair yoga playbook to introduce mindful movement to the workplace.

In comparison to mat yoga, it is much more accessible in an office setting and ensures no one is left out because their flexibility or disability.

The Benefits of Office Chair Yoga

So, why should you practice chair yoga? Chair yoga provides the body and mind with many benefits. Here are the top benefits of chair yoga:

  1. Great for Those Who Have Trouble Practicing Traditional Yoga

    One of the main benefits of practicing chair yoga is that it’s a great alternative for those who struggle with traditional yoga. As we mentioned, the practice of chair yoga was originally developed with an arthritic yogi in mind.

    But, this form of yoga isn’t just great for those suffering from arthritis. It can also help sufferers of carpal tunnel, chronic pain, osteoporosis, and multiple sclerosis. It can also benefit those who are over a certain age and have trouble working through the up and down motions of traditional yoga.

  2. Ideal for Desk Jobs or Long Flights

    In case you haven’t yet heard, sitting is the new smoking. That is, many researchers believe that spending your days tied to a desk is as harmful to our health is smoking cigarettes.

    But, if you work a desk job, what can you really do?

    While there are plenty of ways you can get moving at a desk job, a lot of them involve getting out of your desk. This is why chair yoga is so beneficial, as it doesn’t require you to step away from your work. According to a study by the University of Pennsylvania, chair yoga can help relieve the tension and stress that come with sitting at a desk all day.

    In addition to practicing mindful movement at the office, the practice can also benefit you on long-haul flights. During long-haul flights, you’re at the risk of developing blood clots due to being immobile for long periods of time. By practicing yoga in your seat, you’ll get your blood moving and reduce the risk of blood clots.

  3. Every Office Has Chairs & Chairs Save Space!

    If you’re trying to do yoga in a small area, you may not have the space to lay out a mat. This is why chair yoga can be so handy, as you only need a small amount of space to practice.

    Chair yoga also allows participants to stay in their normal work clothes, avoiding the time needed to change and, perhaps even more importantly, avoiding seeing your boss in lulu lemons.

    Additionally, chairs are very easy to come by. Most participants have their own chair they can roll in or companies may choose to use their onsite boardrooms or auditoriums.

    Not at the office? You can do chair yoga during a flight, on a bench in the park, on a low concrete wall, or while sitting at your home and watching TV.

  4. Increased Flexibility

    If you’re looking to increase your flexibility, this is a great option. Even if you’re not an athlete, flexibility is important, as it can help you with everyday tasks like tying your shoes, picking up items off the ground, and reaching up high in your cupboards.

    One study conducted over a 10-week period found that biweekly yoga sessions can increase your flexibility as well as improve your balance.

  5. Improved Strength

    When most of us think about improving our strength, we think about heavy lifting. However, not everyone can participate in heavy lifting due to injuries or chronic pain.

    Chair yoga is a way to improve your strength while being gentle enough on your body. In fact, a growing number of studies show that yoga can improve muscle strength as well as build endurance.

  6. Reduce Stress and Pain

    Chair yoga is also a great practice for those looking to reduce stress and pain.

    One study had participants practice yoga for 2 months. Researchers found that compared to the control group, the group that practiced yoga had lower cortisol levels. Cortisol is the stress hormone, and if your cortisol levels are too high, it can wreak havoc on your health.

    Additionally, the breathwork involved in yoga helps you cope and manage pain. In fact, one meta-analysis of 17 studies found that yoga is particularly helpful for those suffering from fibromyalgia osteoporosis-related curvature of the spine.

“Chair yoga also allows participants to stay in their normal work clothes, avoiding the time needed to change and, perhaps even more importantly, avoiding seeing your boss in lulu lemons.”

The Top Chair Yoga Poses to Try

If you’re wondering if chair yoga is for you, all you need to do is grab a chair and try some of these poses:

1. Chair Cat-Cow Stretch

For this pose, you’ll sit on the chair with your spine elongated and both feet planted firmly on the floor.

Then, place your hands on the top of your thighs or on your knees. As you inhale, arch your spine and roll your shoulders back. This is the cow part of the pose. Then, as you exhale, drop your chin to your chest and roll your shoulders forward, allowing your head to come forward at the same time. This is the cat position.

Move back and forth between the cow and cat position five times before moving onto the next pose.

2. Seated Twist

The seated twist is a great pose for those looking to strengthen and heal their back. For this pose, place your right hand on your left knee and your left arm over the back of your chair. Then, turn and look over your left shoulder and hold the pose for four breaths.

As you inhale, feel your spine lengthen and feel a deeper twist as you exhale. Then, exhale back to center and repeat on the other side.

3. Chair Raised Hands Pose

For this pose, raise your hands toward the ceiling as you inhale. As you reach upwards with your fingertips towards the ceiling, let your shoulder blades slide down your back.

Then, slowly lower your arms back toward your sides and repeat.

4. Seated Chest Opener

For this pose, sit on the edge of your chair and interlace your hands behind your back. When you inhale, lift your hands up and away from your back. At the same time, gently lift your chin away from your chest. Then, as you lower your hands, exhale slowly.

Switch the grip of your hands and then repeat the sequence on the other side.

5. Eagle Arms

If you’re experiencing shoulder pain, this is an excellent move to try out. For this pose, hold your arms in front of you at shoulder height in front of you. Then, bring one arm under the other. While bending your arms at your elbows, twist your arms so your elbows come together.

Hold this pose for five breaths, then untwist your arms and repeat on the other side.

6. Assisted Neck Stretch

Due to the fact that our necks hold up our heads, they experience a great amount of stress on a daily basis. To help alleviate the stress on your neck, take your left arm and drag it over your head until your palm reaches your right ear. Then, allow your head to fall to your left shoulder and hold the pose for five breaths. Repeat on the opposite side.

How to Find a Chair Yoga Instructor For Your Office

If you’d like greater instruction on these poses and if you’d like to lower the stress levels in your office, then we suggest hiring a mindful movement instructor!

Here are some tips you can employ to find the right chair teacher for your team:

  1. Contact Twello. We have many highly trained Chair Yoga Instructors that we are confident would be a perfect fit for your team! Book a consultation with us to discover the amazing instructors you could bring into your workplace (onsite or virtual)!
  2. Ask for recommendations from colleagues and peers, look for companies that already work in your industry.
  3. Read reviews on Yelp and Google My Business, look for detailed reviews regarding the facilitators professionalism and technique.
  4. Look for an instructor with corporate experience, what works in studios is very different than what works within the office! An instructor with corporate experience will be able to speak the same language as your employees.
  5. There are many types of yoga out there, so make sure you choose an instructor who has experience in the specialty you want to learn (in this case, chair yoga or mindful movement).

15 Interview Questions To Ask A Prospective Chair Yoga Teacher

Here are 15 questions to ask a potential chair yoga instructor.

These questions are designed to learn more about the instructor’s training and corporate experience.

  1. Formal Training:
    • What formal yoga teacher training do you have?
    • Have you taken any training specific to chair yoga?
    • How many hours of certified yoga teacher training do you have?
  2. Corporate Experience:
    • Do you have experience in a corporate environment – either working or teaching?
    • In what ways does teaching corporate chair yoga differ from teaching at a studio?
    • How do you address corporate employees who are skeptical about the benefits of chair yoga?
    • Do you know the appropriate modifications to make for attendees that may have physical limitations?
    • What special considerations do you think we should consider for our specific industry?
  3. Passion:
    • Why did you start teaching yoga?
    • Do you enjoy making up new classes and sequences for your clients?
  4. Reviews & Testimonials:
    • Do you have any current clients who would refer your services?
    • Do you have a client list we could view?
    • Do you have any testimonials from past participants?
    • Have you worked with any other businesses in our industry?
    • What special considerations do you think we should consider for our specific industry?

Worried about vetting potential Chair Yoga instructors?

We don’t blame you! That is exactly why we have already done the grunt of the work for you. All of our instructors are highly trained yoga professionals who understand the do’s and dont’s of the corporate world!

Find out more about our Chair Yoga Instructors by booking a call with us!

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