Embarking on a weight loss journey often conjures images of intense workouts, sweating it out in the gym, or pounding the pavement during a run. While these activities have their merits, they might not be suitable for everyone, especially those who have health concerns or are looking to protect their joints from excessive stress. Many of my clients are surprised to learn there's a gentle yet effective alternative found in chair yoga. That's why I rounded up seven of the best chair yoga exercises for weight loss you can start doing today.
Chair yoga is a modified form of traditional yoga that's performed while seated or using a chair for support. It's accessible to people of all fitness levels and can be particularly effective in aiding weight loss. Here are seven of the best chair yoga exercises for weight loss, accompanied by step-by-step instructions. Keep reading to learn more, and when you're finished, be sure to check out The Only 5 Yoga Exercises You Need To Shrink Your Belly.
Seated Mountain Pose (Tadasana)
Seated mountain pose engages the core muscles and promotes proper posture, leading to improved overall body awareness and increased calorie expenditure during daily activities. It also helps strengthen the core, which can support healthy digestion and metabolism, contributing to weight management.
Sit comfortably on a chair with your feet flat on the ground and your spine straight. Place your hands on your thighs, palms facing down. Inhale deeply and lengthen your spine, lifting the crown of your head toward the ceiling. Engage your abdominal muscles by drawing your navel in toward your spine. Hold for five to 10 breaths, focusing on your breath and maintaining good posture.
Seated Forward Fold (Paschimottanasana)
The seated forward fold engages and stretches the hamstrings and lower back muscles, promoting flexibility and improved circulation, which can aid in calorie burn and metabolic function. It also encourages mindfulness and relaxation, reducing stress and contributing to a holistic approach to weight management.
Sit at the edge of your chair with your feet flat on the floor and hip-width apart. Inhale deeply, and lengthen your spine. Exhale as you hinge at your hips and gently lean forward, keeping your back straight. Reach for your shins, ankles, or the floor (if possible) with your hands. Hold for five to 10 breaths while maintaining a gentle stretch.
Seated Twist (Ardha Matsyendrasana)
Seated twists engage the abdominal muscles and stimulate digestion, helping to improve the efficiency of the digestive system, which can aid in the elimination of toxins and excess waste. Regular practice of seated twists can enhance spinal flexibility, promoting better posture and a heightened awareness of body alignment.
Sit comfortably, with your spine tall and feet flat on the ground. Inhale deeply, then exhale and twist your upper body to the right, placing your left hand on your right knee. Place your right hand on the backrest of the chair for support. Hold the twist for five to 10 breaths, feeling a gentle stretch along your spine. Repeat on the other side by twisting to the left.
Seated Leg Lifts
Seated leg lifts engage the quadriceps and lower body muscles, helping to increase calorie burn and improve overall metabolic activity. The repetitive motion of leg lifts can contribute to building lean muscle mass, which aids in boosting metabolism and burning more calories throughout the day.
Sit tall on the chair with your feet flat on the floor. Hold onto the sides of the chair for support. Inhale deeply, and as you exhale, lift your right leg straight in front of you. Hold for a few breaths, then lower your leg. Repeat with the left leg. Perform 10 to 15 leg lifts on each side, gradually increasing repetitions as you progress.
Seated Cat-Cow Stretch
Cat-cow stretches help mobilize the spine and improve flexibility, facilitating better overall body movement during exercise and daily activities, ultimately supporting calorie burning and weight loss efforts. These stretches promote relaxation and reduce stress, which can help prevent emotional eating and support a healthy eating routine.
Sit with your feet flat on the floor and your hands resting on your knees. Inhale as you arch your back, lifting your chest and tilting your pelvis forward. Exhale as you round your spine, tucking your chin toward your chest. Repeat this flowing motion for five to 10 rounds, coordinating breath with movement.
Seated Warrior II
Seated Warrior II engages the core muscles and strengthens the legs, helping to build lean muscle mass and increase overall calorie expenditure during the practice, contributing to weight management. Additionally, this pose promotes improved posture and body awareness, which can encourage mindful eating and healthier lifestyle choices conducive to weight loss.
Sit at the edge of your chair with your feet wide apart. Turn your right foot outward, and bend your right knee to a 90-degree angle. Keep your left leg straight, and align your heels. Extend your arms out to the sides, parallel to the floor. Gaze over your right fingertips. Hold for five to 10 breaths, and then switch sides.
Seated Sun Salutation (Surya Namaskar)
The seated sun salutation engages multiple muscle groups, increases heart rate, and promotes calorie burning through its flowing movements, making it an effective low-impact cardio workout. Additionally, it enhances overall body flexibility and can help improve metabolism, aiding in weight loss over time.
Sit with your feet flat on the floor and your hands at your heart center. Inhale as you raise your arms overhead. Exhale as you fold forward, bringing your hands to the floor or chair seat. Inhale, lift your chest, and look up. Exhale as you return to the starting position. Repeat the sequence three to five times, syncing breath with movement.