Poses for PSA: Chair Yoga Sun Breath Sequenceby Julie Cerrone Croner Patient Advocate
Some days our practices may be made up of super powerful flows, while other days they may be slow and gentle. But the best thing about yoga is that we are able to (and should) tailor our practice to what our bodies need and want Every day our practice will be different and that is something we should honor.
No one HAS to do a handstand. No one HAS to do a warrior 1 or warrior 2 pose. Even if you sat on your mat, just focusing on your breath, you'd be doing yoga!
Yoga means union, and, within our practice, we work to bring together our mind, body and soul. Whenever we link our breath to our movements, we connect with the energies flowing within our bodies. The secret of yoga is that we truly have the ability to affect what goes on in our bodies- we just need to quiet the mind, limber the body and allow the energy to flow freely within us.
For the longest time, I couldn't do standing postures or child's pose because of my knee. But, by modifying the poses and meeting myself where I was, I still received the benefits of yoga. Mobility issues don’t need to hold us back from practicing, in fact, practicing yoga can and will still help our bodies!
Strengthening focus with Sun SalutationsSun salutations begin with what is commonly referred to as a Sun Breath. Typically this sequence is executed standing up, but guess what? You can still receive ALL the benefits of these postures by completing them when sitting down (perfect for those with chronic joint pain or conditions). By bringing awareness to really rooting down through your feet, which engages your legs, this series of postures will help bring balance to your body.
As long as you’re focusing on your breath, linking it with the movements and truly allowing your body to enjoy the experience - you’re practice will rival that of a standing, power flow class.** Sun Breath Postures**
Moving to the edge of your chair, sit up nice and tall. Focus on elongating your spine from the top of your head to the bottom of your tailbone.
Bring awareness to your feet, making sure that all four corners of each foot is firmly planted in the ground. An easy way to make sure that you are engaging all of your foot is to lift up your toes. Feel the engagement of your footpads, the two edges of your feet, and the heel of your foot. Gently release your toes back to the ground, imagining your feet are truly rooted into the floor. Strong engagement of your feet will help activate the rest of your legs.
Shrug your shoulders up towards your ears and then move them back and down, melting your shoulders down towards the floor. Your arms are strongly at your side, with either your palms facing forwards or closed in towards your body.
Tadasana means mountain pose. When you’re in this posture, imagine that you are a strong, rooted mountain which nothing can shake!
Keeping the same alignment with your feet and lower body as Tadasana, inhale your arms up towards the sky. Extending your fingertips up toward the ceiling, but ensuring that your shoulders are moving down your back. You don’t want your shoulders as earrings!
Holding firmly through your core, every part of your body is working here. As you’re pressing your feet into the floor, extend up through your fingertips.
On an exhale, swan dive your arms out to the side, bending forward at your hip crease. Bring your chest over top of your legs and release your hands down to the ground. Allowing your neck to gently release towards the ground, feel free to slowly move it side to side and up and down. This will help dissipate tension from your neck and back.
If your hands can’t make it all the way to the ground, no worries! There are modifications you can make: If you have a yoga block, rest your hands on the block right in front of your feet. And if you don’t have a block, grab a few thick books, a box or a small step stool.
Uttanasana, or intense forward-bending pose, in this variation will not give you the same leg stretch as a standing forward bend will, but it’s a wonderful stress and tension relieving posture.
Ardha UttanasanaOn an inhale, begin to straighten your spine, lifting half way. You can bring your hands to rest on your shins or on the tops of your knees. In this half forward fold posture, you want to make sure that your spine is long and you’re moving your chest forward. As you bring your chest forward, move those shoulders back and down. Your legs are still very active here, as your feet should still be firmly rooted into the ground.
Your legs are engaged, your core is engaged, your back is engaged and you’re remembering to breathe!**
On your exhale, released back from ardha uttanasana into your full forward forward.
With your next inhale, push down through all four corners of your feet, to engage your legs, and reverse swan dive your arms all the way back towards the sky. While flowing your arms up, remember to keep a strong and active core. You should be using this strength in your mid-section to help draw your body up towards the ceiling back to urdhva hastasana.
Hands To Heart Center
Exhale, lower your hands down to the heart center. Take a moment to connect back to your breath if you’ve lost it.
Here you have a choice. You can either continue to flow through these postures, one posture linked to an inhale or an exhale, or you can sit here with your eyes closed for a few breaths honoring yourself. I suggest moving through this sequence 5 - 10 times. Close your eyes and allow your body to freely flow with your breath. This is how we move towards that union, this is how we practice our yoga.
This is a great sequence to do at work or at home. I even stopped and completed a few rounds myself while writing this post! All you need is a chair, a few moments to dedicate to yourself and the openness to connect your mind, body and spirit.
You can simply complete these postures each day or you can add in other postures as well. For more examples of chair yoga poses, check out 6 Chair Yoga Poses For Your Psoriatic Arthritis.