Chair Based Yoga

Exercise is essential for improving joint function and reducing pain.  If you avoid exercise because you’re worried about exacerbating the pain or getting injured, chair based yoga may be a good option for you.  

Chair based yoga is an effective alternative to traditional yoga and can provide the same benefits. As the name suggests, chair based yoga takes place in a chair, so there’s no getting up and down from a yoga mat on the floor.

It is a gentle style of an ancient practice that incorporates many of the mind-body benefits of traditional yoga, including stress relief and improved strength and flexibility. It can also help with managing pain associated with conditions such as osteoarthritis and also reduce fatigue. 

How Chair Yoga Reduces Joint Pain

Dr Joseph Ruane explained how yoga can help people with osteoarthritis mange their pain. “Motion is lotion for arthritis,” says Dr. Ruane. “Immobility will increase stiffness and by proxy pain around the joint.” The stiffened tissue then squeezes nervous system receptors, called mechanoreceptors, causing the sensation of pain. Like other forms of exercise, yoga works to keep these tissues supple, relieving the pressure that causes pain.  Movement activates the release of synovial fluid to lubricate the joints, further reducing pain.

If you wake up feeling stiff, it may well be from the lack of motion during the long, overnight period. 

Yoga not only improves strength and flexibility but it also helps with balance so many patients that practice yoga regularly say it also helps them overcome a fear of falling.

Regular exercise can have a very positive impact on pain. For example, increasing strength in your quadriceps, the muscles in the front of your thigh, can result in a 20% to 30% decrease in knee osteoarthritis pain. For a person living with pain, this adds up to an improved sense of self-efficacy and a better quality of life.

Getting Started with Chair Yoga

If you’d like to explore the benefits of chair based yoga, first consult your doctor or physical therapist (PT) to see if it’s right for you. If you’ve been cleared for exercise and would like to begin Chair Yoga with guidance, ask your PT or health care provider for a referral to local classes or instructors in your area. You can also conduct an online search for chair based yoga classes. Local senior centers may also be able to refer you.

To check it out now, click here to watch this short video.


Reference: Lutz, J., 2017. Chair Yoga: Gentle, Effective Exercise for Osteoarthritis Pain. [online] Practical Pain Management. Available at: https://www.practicalpainmanagement.com/patient/treatments/alternative/chair-yoga-gentle-effective-exercise-osteoarthritis-pain