Yoga for Beginners: Chair Pose

By Brittany Risher |

This incredibly simple pose can have a big impact on your ability to perform everyday tasks with ease.

Chair pose is proof that the simplest movements are often the most important.

There’s hardly anything to it, but this foundational yoga pose mimics the squatting position required to sit down and get up out of chairs, bend down to pick up a grandchild or pet, or hover over a public toilet if needed.

“I call this the porta-potty pose,” says Terecita “Ti” Blair, the 2017 SilverSneakers Instructor of the Year. “It helps us develop the muscles that will keep us afloat while using those things because, well, we’ve got to go!”

By building strength in your legs, butt, and core, chair pose does a lot more than help you hover with ease.

Ready to give it a try? Follow along with the video above, or read the steps below to learn proper form and see tips to make chair pose easier or harder. As always, safety is key. If you have a chronic condition (including osteoporosis), balance issues, or injuries, talk to your doctor about safe exercise.

Step #1: Stabilize Your Feet

Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart and knees slightly bent. With your belly engaged and chest lifted, roll your shoulders up, back, and down.

Step #2: Sink Hips Back

Inhale, and sink your hips back as if sitting into an imaginary chair. Keep your belly drawn in and away from your thighs. Lift your chest, and allow your weight to sink into your heels. Place hands on the tops of your thighs for support. You can stay here for a few breaths if you want.

Step #3: Bring Arms Forward

If you want to work your upper body a little more, extend your arms forward. Feel your strength as you root down into your feet.

Step #4: Exhale While Standing

When you're ready to come up, use an exhale to root down through your feet and return to standing. Repeat five rounds, holding chair pose for up to three to five breaths each time.

Step #5: Make It Your Own

To make this pose easier, start with seated chair pose: Sit with your hips, knees, and toes facing forward, feet rooted into the ground. Imagine your butt is superglued to the seat. Inhale to sit tall. Exhale, and hinge forward at your hips, imagining you are trying to lift your butt off the chair.

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Keep rooting down through your feet as you draw your belly in and lift your chest. You can place your hands on your thighs for support, on your hips for balance, or out in front of you for strengthening. Repeat three to five times, experimenting with shifting even more weight into your legs each time.

To make it harder, add any of the following arm variations:

  • Reach your arms forward with your palms facing each other.
  • Bring your hands together in front of your heart center.
  • Reach your arms behind you.

Or add a lower-body challenge by coming up on your tiptoes while remaining in your chair.

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