Become a Member

Get access to more than 30 brands, premium video, exclusive content, events, mapping, and more.

Already have an account? Sign In

Become a Member

Get access to more than 30 brands, premium video, exclusive content, events, mapping, and more.

Already have an account? Sign In

Brands

Sun Salutations

Accessible Yoga: Chair Sun Salutation

You can still receive the physical and mental benefits of beloved Sun Salutation from a chair. If standing is painful, difficult, or impossible, try this variation of Sun Salutation to feel more you more grounded, balanced, and at home in your body. Bonus: you can do it at your desk for a rejuvenating midday break.

Get access to everything we publish when you sign up for Outside+.

Want to learn how to build a potent yoga practice that is accessible to all? Join Chair Yoga 101, our five-week workshop led by Accessible Yoga founder Jivana Heyman. You’ll explore safe, effective chair adaptations of yoga asana, along with meditation and pranayama. Sign up today!

Sun Salutation can also be done as a seated practice, which takes a little more imagination. There are two ways to approach the practice. One is to try to align movements in the chair with the traditional standing Sun Salutation so they could be practiced side by side. Another approach is to be more creative with the movements and focus on moving with the breath, getting as many major muscle groups involved as possible.

Generally, try to inhale when you bend back (spinal extension) and exhale when you bend forward (spinal or hip flexion). Sun Salutation is, by defini­tion, a series of flowing movements coordinated with the breath. Use your imagination, and see what type of chair Sun Salutation you can create. The chair can be against a wall for support or on a yoga mat to provide more traction. When practicing in a chair, be careful to keep the bulk of your weight in the chair to avoid falling out of it.

See also How to Use a Wall for Sun Salutation

For many people, chair Sun Salutation offers a way to continue a much-loved practice in the face of injury or illness. The flow of breath and move­ment is soothing to the mind and nervous system, and it can help bring us back to the body during times of anxiety or stress. I remember one student with multiple sclerosis who was dealing with extreme fatigue. Some days she had enough energy to practice a standing Sun Salutation, and some days she preferred to sit in a chair. But either way she was able to experience this powerful moving meditation.

To begin, come to chair Mountain Pose, feet firmly planted on the floor with your knees over your ankles and your thighs parallel to the floor. (For shorter legs, place a blanket or block under your feet. For longer legs, sit on a folded blanket). Sit toward the front of the chair with your spine long.

See also An Accessible Yoga Practice You Can Do In a Chair

Prayer Pose

None

Exhale and bring your palms together in front of your chest.

Upward Salute

None

Inhale and place your hands back on your thighs. Lengthen your neck and come up with a long spine. Raise your arms up overhead and look up gently.

None

Exhale and release your leg. Lower your hands to your thighs, and hinge forward at your hips, keeping your neck and spine long. Slide your hands down your legs toward your feet and relax your neck.

None

Inhale and rise up. Take hold of your left thigh and lift it toward your abdomen. Move your chest forward and look ahead.

Cat Pose

None

Exhale and release your leg; return your hands to your knees. Round your back and lower your head into a seated Cat Pose.

Cow Pose

None

Inhale, move your chest forward, and look up, coming into a seated Cow Pose.

Cat Pose

None

Exhale and round your back into a seated Cat Pose.

None

Inhale and rise up. Take hold of your left thigh and lift it toward your abdomen. Move your chest forward and look ahead.

None

Exhale and release your leg. Lower your hands to your thighs, and hinge forward at your hips, keeping your neck and spine long. Slide your hands down your legs toward your feet and relax your neck.

Upward Salute

None

Inhale and place your hands back on your thighs. Lengthen your neck and come up with a long spine. Raise your arms up overhead and look up gently.

Prayer Pose

None

Exhale and bring your palms together in front of your chest.

None

From Accessible Yoga: Poses and Practices for Every Body by Jivana Heyman © 2019 by J. Heyman. Reprinted in arrangement with Shambhala Publications, Inc. Boulder, CO. www.shambhala.com