Chair Yoga

Chair Yoga

A gentle, relaxing way to reap all the benefits of yoga with the support of a chair

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How can chair yoga nourish you?

Chair yoga is suitable for everyone and makes traditional yoga more accessible for people restricted by injury, ageing or disability; as well as allowing anyone confined to a seat to benefit from the practice. 

This variation of yoga was said to have been created by yoga therapist Lakshmi Voelker-Binder[1] in 1982, in response to one of her students being unable to do regular floor yoga poses because of arthritis. According to the International Chair Yoga Association[2], though, the origins of chair yoga poses date back 5000 years, as every chair yoga pose is an adaptation of the original pose. 

Just like all forms of yoga, chair yoga focuses on breath, movement and flow, with the aim of slowing down, concentrating on each pose and attuning to your body to enhance flexibility and strength, reduce stress and promote relaxation.  

Most of the poses are based on Hatha yoga, with the chair used as a support throughout.  

Chair yoga has become increasingly popular in the past decade or more, particularly for seniors, as well as in office environments.  

Benefits of chair yoga

The beauty of chair yoga is that almost anyone can practice it and reap most of the key physical and mental health benefits of traditional yoga. 

For the elderly in particular, it enables them to move their bodies in a gentle way while feeling supported by the chair.  

One study[3] showed chair yoga reduced pain and improved the quality of life for people with osteoarthritis while another pilot study[4] of the impact of chair yoga on people in their 80s and 90s suggested that yoga may be beneficial in improving mobility and reducing fear of falling.  

Physically, chair yoga improves strength, mobility, stability and balance while mentally it helps with self-esteem, a sense of self-empowerment and decreases levels of stress and anxiety. It can also assist with energy levels, mental clarity and productivity. 

Chair yoga may assist in relieving symptoms related to:

Anxiety Arthritis, rheumatism and osteoarthritis Asthma Back pain Balance, stability and coordination Brain fog and clarity Chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS/ME) Circulation and cardiovascular conditions Concentration, focus and problem solving Depression Diabetes Energy and vitality Flexibility, endurance and strength Hypertension Immunity issues Mobility and movement Muscle spasm, tightness and cramps Nervous system and neurological conditions Posture and spine issues Respiratory and breathing issues Sadness Seasonal affective disorder (SAD) Stress and tension Stroke Weight control and obesity Show all

What to expect from a chair yoga session

Your instructor will check on any unique injuries before commencing. A session usually lasts between 30 and 60 minutes and you will be guided through a series of asanas (poses). 

Most poses can be adapted to suit the chair - for example, with the chair version of mountain pose[5], you will sit with your feet flat on the floor and the knees at a 90-degree angle. The arms are raised to the sky with the palms facing each other and the gaze is between the palms. 

Depending on the level and the age group, you may remain seated for the entire class however more advanced level classes may require some standing and using the chair for support or balance. 

You will also be guided through some breathing exercises and mindfulness techniques as part of a class, finishing with relaxation. 

As with any exercise or wellness program, please consult your medical professional before commencing chair yoga. If you have an injury or other health issue, or any concerns at all, also speak to your instructor, who will be happy to address these and explore the option of tailoring the session to your individual requirements. 


  1. Lakshmi Voelker | Yoga International
  2. International Chair Yoga Association (ICYA) | LinkedIn
  3. First study to show chair yoga as effective alternative treatment for osteoarthritis | ScienceDaily
  4. Safety and feasibility of modified chair-yoga on functional outcome among elderly at risk for falls | PMC
  5. What is Chair Yoga? | Definition from Yogapedia

Frequently asked questions

Chair Yoga is a variation of traditional yoga that makes the practice more accessible for individuals restricted by injury, ageing, or disability. It is suitable for anyone, including those confined to a seat, seeking to benefit from yoga practice.

Chair Yoga is credited to yoga therapist Lakshmi Voelker-Binder, who created it in 1982. She developed this variation in response to a student unable to perform regular floor yoga poses due to arthritis. According to the International Chair Yoga Association, chair yoga poses have roots dating back 5000 years, being adaptations of original poses.

Chair Yoga allows individuals with limited mobility or those confined to a seat to experience the physical and mental health benefits of yoga. For the elderly, it provides a gentle way to move their bodies while feeling supported by the chair, promoting flexibility, balance, and overall well-being.

Yes, every Chair Yoga pose is an adaptation of the original yoga poses. These adaptations make it possible for individuals to practice yoga in a seated position, making the practice accessible to a broader range of people.

Chair Yoga offers similar physical and mental health benefits as traditional yoga. It promotes flexibility, strength, balance, and relaxation. Mentally, it can help reduce stress, improve concentration, and enhance overall well-being.

Yes, almost anyone can practice Chair Yoga, regardless of age or fitness level. Its adaptability makes it inclusive for individuals with various physical conditions, allowing them to experience the joys and benefits of yoga in a supportive and accessible manner.

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