BKS Iyengar, founder of the Iyengar Yoga Method is the great thinker behind this highly versatile yoga accessory. Although it might seem unusual to use a chair to do yoga, once you realise the vast amount of benefits it brings, you instantly adopt it.
I personally was really not "into" yoga chairs, finding them uncool (especially when you compare them with flowing vinyasa yoga), cold and rigid. I now have my own and integrate it in as many yoga poses as possible in my daily yoga routine.
What is a yoga chair?
Iyengar yoga chairs are foldable metallic chairs, highly stable and strong. They do not include a back so that yoga practitioners can easily slide their legs though the back of the chair, allowing many poses. A yoga chair represents an incredible tool to be used both open or folded.
What are the benefits of using a yoga chair?
- Go beyond body limitations
Many health conditions can impede people to perform "standard" yoga poses. If you suffer from knee problems restricting you from sitting on the floor, your body weight or lack of flexibility does not allow you to reach all the way down to the floor, a yoga chair is your best ally. There are chair variants to all traditional yoga poses, stretching and providing the same benefits to your body and soul.
- Help extend the body
Holding a yoga chair when folding forward provides the back extension required to make progress. Spreading your extended body on a folded chair can provide direction to properly extend your body forward. It is also used in side stretches to ensure you extend both sides of the body.
- Help perform back bends
Back bends are easier with the support a yoga chair can offer. It is the perfect tool to open your chest. It also helps transiting to more advanced poses with the right amount of support to care for the body and remove difficulty.
- Restorative poses
The use of a yoga prop (in this case a yoga chair) helps the body relax and rest in the pose. Restorative yoga sessions generally include less poses that you hold for longer period of times (up to 5 or 10 minutes). See example on pictures below.
Iyengar yoga poses with chair
On below pictures, you can see a sample of yoga poses performed with the help of a chair:
- gentle back bend (reaching for the chair legs helps open the chest)
- the arm reaching the yoga chair in the revolved triangle helps extend both sides of the body before placing the hand on the floor. You can also use the top part of the chair back if your body cannot bend lower.
- placing the forehead on the seat with folded arms is a great restorative yoga pose, where you let your body relax while stretching.
- in the forward seated bend, I use the chair to extend the back while pressing my legs down.
- in the seated twist, I use the seat and back of the chair to help twist the body.
- in the last pose, the chair is folded, providing guidance to the body to spread and extend in a straight line.
Here is a great book if you are looking to perform Iyengar yoga with a chair: A chair for yoga by Eyal Shifroni
Looking to buy good quality yoga props? Check our yoga chair and accessories here.