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 at home in your body.
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.
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.
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
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