Chair Yoga

How I Practice Video Series
Joanne L. Perron, MD, FACOG

HIP: Chair Yoga from ACOG on Vimeo.


So yoga can be done in the office, especially in between patients or in a short break that you have. And yoga is just not about your practice on the mat at the yoga center but there can be some simple breathing and stretching exercises that help loosen up your shoulders and your back and your legs so that you don’t feel so uncomfortable and in pain at the end of the long work day. So most of us at our computer are hunched over a little bit and typing away and we put stress in our traps, in our necks, and in our shoulders even when we’re on our iPad or iPhone we’re hunched and causing unnecessary stress.

So in your office you’re going to sit with your back against the, the low back against the chair and plant your feet, spread your toes. You don’t have to take your shoes off if you don’t want to but you should have a really cute pedicure. And the first thing that you’re going to do is drop your right ear to your right shoulder. But drop your left shoulder. Then take your right hand to that left ear and draw the stretch in your neck down just a little bit more. And then the center of your palm goes to the crown of your head and then bring your chin in to your chest. And this whole practice is done very slowly with mindfulness and awareness and breath. Left ear to left shoulder. And stretch down, breathe with it, don’t hold your breath. Crown of the head. And then anytime you begin to feel tightness you breathe deeper. So roll your shoulders.

And then the next one, you’ll bring your right hand to the back let and the left hand comes up. So inhaling bring that arm up. Keep your left hip grounded so you don’t fall off the chair. Open your heart, open the chest and breathe. So this might be a little difficult if you haven’t done this ever before. You have to use a lot of awareness in your core body which is your pelvic diaphragm being held. And inhale come up. Exhale roll your shoulders.

Next side you’re going to be left hand to the left back leg of the chair and you inhale that right arm overhead. But you have to ground that right hip so you don’t fall off. Breathing deep, hold your core. And then inhale come up. Roll your shoulders, you’re going to want to take a twist. This will help the upper back and mid back. Cross your right over your left and flex your foot. And then take your left elbow to the outer part of the right knee. Lean forward. Twist from your heart so that the heart is like a spiral staircase. And then bring the right arm back to the back of the chair. Your neck doesn’t overextend, your neck should just really follow the chest as much as possible. Work the upper back, bring your shoulder blades together. Breathe into that stretch. Pull the navel in, come back to center, roll your shoulders.

Cross left over right and inhale as you bring that right elbow to the outer part of the left knee, flex your left foot, and slowly twist from the heart. Left hand on the back of the chair, don’t overextend on the neck, don’t over twist. Breathe into the ribs. Slowly come back to center.

The other thing we’re really tight in our piriformis, and when the piriformis tightens it can give us symptoms of sciatic nerve inflammation, so we’re going to do a quick stretch for that. Bend your right knee, flex that right foot, put that ankle on the left, just above the left knee. Use your right hand and press that right knee down. So you might feel enough there, if you’re not feeling enough you might want to lean forward a little bit. You can also, if you need to feel more, bring that ankle closer to the groin. And if this might be the area your maximum stretch. In yoga you don’t ever want to go beyond what we call your edge, because you don’t want to injure yourself. And it’s always about breathing, it’s not about what’s in our mind or being competitive or being the top of the class, it’s about being where you are in that moment. And then you shift and do the left side. So bend and flex that ankle. Double check your pedicure, press the left down. Breath, make sure you aren’t tightening in your shoulders. And then release.

So we’re going to do a shoulder stretch and a forward fold, you’re going to take your hands in back and interlace if you can, if you can’t you’re just going to grab the chair. Fold forward, pull your belly in, bring the shoulder blades together.

The last stretch is going to be hamstrings. Ground the left foot 90 degrees at the knee. Stretch that right leg, either grab your thigh or your calf, bend your elbows and draw your torso forward. Don’t worry about trying to get the head down, worry about lengthening the spine and moving the heart closer to the thigh. And then repeat on the other side, extend, flex that foot. Get the spine long and fold. Inhale come up. Roll your shoulders. And you’ve just done a few minutes of the stretch that should release lots of tension. And this is how I practice.


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