Full mobility is something we often take for granted when we have it. If, however, you are experiencing limited lower body mobility, it does not mean that yoga is out of the question for you.
Yoga can help to enhance the range of motion in the rest of the body, and to reduce any pain and stiffness that may show in other parts of the body due to limited mobility. The following poses are done while seated on a chair.
In order to have your hips and thighs parallel to the ground, you can place few yoga blocks underneath your feet, or some thick books will also do the trick.
1. Cat and Cow
This pose is usually done on the hands and knees, but can just as well be done seated. It warms up the shoulders and the spine, giving a nice movement to the entire back.
Start by sitting straight up on the chair, then place your hands on your knees. With an inhale, start to bring your chest more forward, arching the lower back, bringing the shoulder blades closer together, lifting up the chin lightly. Make sure the shoulders are not lifting up towards the ears.
With the exhale, begin to round the upper back, bringing the shoulder away from each other, and lowering the gaze towards your lap. Continue with 3-4 rounds.
2. Side Stretch with a TheraBand
For this pose it's good to have a stretchy TheraBand, or a belt you can hold with your hands.
Sit upright on a chair, and take hold of the TheraBand (or belt) with your hands, keeping your hands just slightly wider than your shoulders. With an inhale, lift the hands straight up, and with an exhale lower the upper body towards the left. Inhale back to the center, and lower the upper body towards the right with the next exhale.
Continue for 4-5 rounds, feeling the stretch and opening in the arm and on the side of the upper body.
3. Forward Fold
When we fold forward, we let gravity help us to revitalize the body and the mind by bringing more blood flow to the upper body and head. Letting the head hang is also a nice release for the neck.
From sitting upright in your chair, lift your arms up with an inhale. With the exhale start to drop your upper body towards the legs, and let your arms reach towards the floor. Rest your hands on the floor, or take a hold of your elbows and release the neck completely.
Stay for 4-5 long and deep breaths.
4. Seated Twist
This pose is great for your spine, releasing tension in the back.
Start by lifting the right leg on top of the left, so that you are sitting cross-legged. Keep your right arm straight down, or you can even take a hold of the chair for stability. Inhale the left arm up, and twist to your right, placing the left hand on your right outer thigh. Lengthen the spine as you inhale, and as you exhale, twist a bit deeper to your right.
If your neck feels comfortable, look over your right shoulder. Stay for 5 deep breaths, and release slowly. Repeat on the other side.
5. Needle Pose
This pose offers a great stretch for the outer hips, and can be easily done from the chair.
Sit towards the edge of your seat, bend your left leg, and lift up your ankle on top of the right knee. Be careful of the knees, as you should not feel any pain there. Keep the foot flexed so the ankle is activated. If you feel a stretch here, you can stay here for 8-10 breaths.
If you would like to stretch deeper, lean your upper body towards your legs until you feel a good stretch on the outer side of the bent leg. Repeat on the other side.
Limited mobility, whether temporary or permanent, can challenge our view of what is possible and attainable. Yoga can help physically, by keeping the body flexible despite the limited mobility, as well as emotionally giving us a place of calmness.