A 10-Week Introduction to Yoga, Anytime, Anywhere – in Your Chair! A Series By New Mama (of twins!) Kristin McGee.
Did you know that 86% of American workers sit all day? Are you living a sedentary life? Think about it. Do you get out of bed in the morning only to:
- Sit down and eat breakfast;
- Sit in a car, on a bus or subway on your way to work;
- Sit at a desk all day long;
- Sit on your commute home;
- Sit down for dinner;
- And then proceed to sit on the couch to watch TV or browse the Internet before you get back into bed?
The effect of sitting for prolonged periods not only causes strain on the neck and shoulders, back, hips, and legs, it’s worse than that. When we sit for long periods of time, we are increasing our risk for diabetes, heart disease, elevated cholesterol, high blood pressure, chronic disease, muscular imbalances, organ damage and musculoskeletal issues.
While we are sitting, our organs aren’t required to function at their full capacity; even our lungs don’t fully inflate. Plus we lose energy, we develop sciatica, we compress our discs, we lose our abdominal strength, and we age more rapidly.
According to the World Health Organization, physical inactivity is the fourth-leading risk factor for death in people around the world. Scary? Yes.
If you are someone who can’t get to a gym, get outside and walk at least 3 times a week for 30 minutes, or has physical limitations then thankfully, I have the perfect antidote for the health risks that plague those of you living a sedentary lifestyle — chair yoga. What is chair yoga? It’s exactly what it sounds like, yoga exercises you can do anytime, anywhere – in your chair!
We all know that adding the practice of yoga to one’s fitness routine has physical, mental, and spiritual health benefits. But, not everyone can get to a yoga class. Some people are too busy, or have limited range of motion, or find certain traditional yoga postures challenging. That’s what inspired me to put together a comprehensive, accessible, and easy-to-follow yoga instruction guide of 100 chair yoga poses and exercises for all ages and stages.
Just as the saying goes, “an apple a day keeps the doctor away, in just minutes a day, a few simple chair yoga exercises will help you achieve remarkable physical, mental, and spiritual health benefits. Even if you can workout daily — adding a gentle chair yoga pose here and there, throughout the day, helps activate your breath, your body, and focuses your mind to improve your health, happiness, and wellbeing.
Over the next 10 weeks, I will introduce you to chair yoga poses from a chapter out of my book Chair Yoga: Sit, Stretch, and Strengthen Your Way to a Happier, Healthier You (HarperCollins, January 17, 2017). Each chapter focuses on stretching and strengthening a different part of the body. It’s easy to find five or ten minutes each day to move and breathe and perform these exercises. The benefits to your physical and mental health will be remarkable.
We will start with breathing exercises and end with meditation exercises and each week cover a different part of the body from top to bottom. You can look forward to this schedule of yoga poses.
- Week One: Breath
- Week Two: Warm-ups
- Week Three: Upper Body 40
- Week Four: Face
- Week Five: Shoulders, Arms, and Wrists
- Week Six: Torso
- Week Seven: Lower Body
- Week Eight: Lower Back
- Week Nine: Standing Exercises
- Week Ten: Meditation
A simple exercise to get you started and one of my favorites to free up tension in your head and neck is the UP/DOWNS. You simply lift your head up and down to the rhythm of your breath, freeing up the neck and shoulders and allowing your body and brain to unwind.
UP/DOWNS: Works Your Head and Neck
- Sit tall at the edge of your chair with your feet hip-width apart.
- Inhale and lift your head up, then exhale and drop your head down. Focus on keeping the torso lifted and isolating the movement in the head and neck.
- Repeat for a series of ten repetitions.
Stay tuned next week for breathing exercises!