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Wheelchair Exercises and Chair Yoga Poses for People with Sedentary Lifestyle

wheelchair exercises, including wheelchair aerobics, are very important for all wheelchair users.
Samyak Lalit
Samyak Lalit | July 26, 2021 (Last update: July 26, 2021)

Samyak Lalit is an author and disability rights activist. He is a polio survivor and the founder of projects like Kavita Kosh, Gadya Kosh, TechWelkin, WeCapable, Dashamlav and Viklangta Dot Com. Website:

Whether you are forced to sit for long stretches of time due to your desk job or a disability has caused you to live a sedentary life, you are at higher risk of gaining excess weight and resultant diseases. Many scientific research and studies have proved n number of times that a sedentary lifestyle is a welcome sign for many serious health issues. If you can stand and walk, that’s the best thing to do. But, if you can’t you need to look for other ways to move and stretch your body.

In this article we are listing some easy chair yoga poses that people with mobility issues too can follow. These are adaptive yoga poses which leaves no space for excuses. You can adapt them to suit your physical capacities. Any movement is always better than no movement.

General Guideline: Office chair with wheels is not the ideal chair for doing chair yoga. You should shift to a chair that is stable. If you are a wheelchair user, you can do your yoga sitting in your wheelchair but remember to put locks and make your chair stable.

Spinal Twist

To begin with, sit straight in your chair with your feet firmly on the ground. Take a deep breath. Now place your left hand on the right armrest of the chair, turn right and put your right hand on the backrest of the chair. Make sure not to move your legs from the original position. You have to turn only your torso. Exhale. Take a deep breath again. Hold yourself in that position for 5-10 seconds and then sit straight. Exhale. Repeat the same thing in the opposite direction. Right hand on the left armrest, left hand on the backrest. Again come to the initial position. This completes one round. Breathing is an important part of yoga so don’t forget to inhale and exhale deeply while doing this spinal twist. Do at least 5 rounds of this spinal twist. This movement helps in alleviating lower back pains too.

If your spine has been operated on for any reason, please consult your doctor before including this exercise in your routine.

Forward Bend

Sit straight in your chair. Inhale deeply. Raise both of your hands stretching them as much as you can without being too tough on your body. Now exhale and bend down. Stay there for a moment and then sit back straight. Repeat this exercise at least 5 times. Ideally, your chest should touch your thighs when you bend down. But, it can be tough for many persons with disabilities or for those who have a not-so-flat tummy. When we are talking about chair yoga we are actually talking about adaptive yoga. This means you can adapt the poses according to the ability of your body. Try to do as much as you can. Don’t bother for what you can’t.

chair exercises and chair yoga poses illustrations

Shoulder Press

No, we are not talking about traditional dumbbell shoulder press. To begin this chair yoga sit straight with your feet firmly on the floor. Lock your arms at the back of your head. Now take a deep breath and press your arms against your ears so that your elbows touch each other. Hold the position for 5-seconds and then exhale. Relax for a moment and then repeat again. Do at least 5-repetitions.

Side Bend

Sit straight in your chair. Stretch your hands sideways. Inhale deeply. Now bend to your left as much as you can let your left hand point to the ground and your right hand towards the ceiling. Exhale. Slowly turn your head and look at the fingers of your right hand. Hold yourself in this position for 5-7 seconds and then come back to your original position. Now repeat the same thing on the other side. Do at least 5 repetitions on both sides.

Seated Mountain

Sit in an upright position. Extend your hands to your sides and gradually lift them up. Clasp your fingers together overhead and turn your palms to face the ceiling. While doing this don’t let your body lean on your backrest. Keep your spine as straight as you can. Hold this position for 10-seconds. Keep inhaling and exhaling while you do this. Now slowly get back to your original position. Repeat this at least 5 times.

Seated Cat and Cow Stretch

Again start by sitting in an upright position. Put your hands on your knees. Rolling your shoulders tuck your chin in your chest… this is cat position. Now move your head up to gaze at the ceiling (don’t tilt your neck backward), chest out. This is called cow position. Remember to exhale in the cat position and inhale while you move in the cow position.

Seated Pigeon

Start with sitting straight, feet firmly planted on the floor. Lift your right leg and put the right foot slightly above the left knee. Place your right hand on the right knee and your left hand on the right ankle. Get comfortable in the position. Inhale deeply. Now as you exhale slowly bend forward. Do it as much as you can do comfortably. Get back to the original position and repeat the pose with the other leg. Do 5 repetitions for both sides.

Start slow but try to maintain consistency and increase the number of repetitions. If you are a person with a disability, please consider your limitations while doing any of the above poses. Don’t hurt or injure yourself.

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