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Season 1 - Episode 16

Standing Postures with a Chair

15 min - Practice


Patricia guides us an innovative practice that helps to keep weight off the joints while receiving the benefits of standing postures. With the support of the chair, we begin with a deep side bend before easing into variations of Warrior 1 and 2, and a twist. This practice results greater strength and stability in the legs, hips, and pelvis.
What You'll Need: Mat, Chair, Blanket

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(waves crashing) In this practice, I'm going to be using a chair, and we're doing this in order to keep undue weight off of the joints, and also it turns our we can access other kinds of experiences in standing poses that you might not get just holding it upright against gravity. So we're going to start with a side bend. And it's marvelous to have this piece of foam on the chair, but you can also use a blanket. Putting the hands on the chair, I'm going to lay my hip, my right hip, on the side of the pad, and reach my arm out. And my arm hangs down and I can have my hand supporting my head.

Now, if you'd like to reach your arm out and just let your head and neck hang over to the side, you can do that. If you feel better to support your head, that's fine, too. You can stretch the legs back away from the chair, and they're pretty straight, and then I'm going to reach my top foot up and slightly back. I'm going to take the top arm up and out, and I'm going to lean back against the chair. So there's a bit of a turn here.

And I'm really working the front of the pelvis, if you bring the top of your pelvis towards your navel, you could think about also as bringing the pubic bone closer to the navel, and the ribs closer to the navel, this helps to keep the back long. The lower back long, arm reaches over-head, and then slightly pulling that back foot down to enhance the side stretch. This is so delicious. (deep breathing) Deep breath into the side of the rib-cage that's getting stretched. And exhale, bring the arm back up, bring the foot back down.

You can roll onto your chest. Come down to the knees. And come back up. Okay, so coming up, push down on the chair, lift up, walk around the chair, and rearrange your blanket or your foam if you need to. Bring your elbow and forearm down first, then your hip comes onto the side of the chair, and lengthen your spine out.

Armpit is over the edge. Upper arm down, head being supported. And then, walk the bottom leg back until it's straight, or bent - you can keep it bent, but I feel more stable with that leg straight. And the toes are touching the bottom leg for now. And I'm going to experiment with releasing the hand letting the head go down.

I actually feel like on this side I want to support my head. Okay, so now you're gonna inhale and raise your upper arm up and before you extend it overhead, go back to - in a way you could think of it as tucking- but you're not using your bottom, your buttock, you're using your belly. You're bringing the pubic bone up towards the navel and maybe melting those ribs back, so that your low back is nice and stable. Inhale, arm comes up, exhale overhead. Lift the back foot.

Move backward through the foot, let your body rotate back. Only if it feels good. If it feels way better to just stay here right on the side, stay here. If it feels way better to have the arm up in the air rather than stretched overhead, because that increases the intensity of the stretch, to take the arm overhead. If that intensity is too much, you don't opt for that option.

Okay? (deep breathing) So I'm going to let the arm go overhead again, and lean back. Now, I feel a little tightness in my right sacrum, am I going to ignore it? No. I'm going to come back to level. It's a constant reminder to keep honoring the barriers.

Breathe into the side rib-cage, helping to expand. And then exhale, bring the arm back up, hand onto the seat of the chair, roll towards your chest until your knees come down and you're back up on your knees. Okay that's the first pose. Now I'm gonna stand up and come around to the other side of the chair so we can take the Warrior Two pose on the chair. So, quite simple, you just straddle the chair to begin with.

And then turning the torso and the pelvis towards the front leg, now I'm gonna let my foot float, because I'm really more interested in this thigh-bone sitting on the chair, and if my foot were on the floor I would be lifting that thigh. So, and then turn the pelvis back a little bit, but not too much. So, if I have this aesthetic requirement doing this pose, that I should turn my pelvis back, my pelvis is gonna go back, and my knee will come forward. So, I'm not gonna use that as a requirement for success in this pose. I'm gonna use the fact that I'd like to keep this leg coming straight out of the socket, And that it's sitting very firmly down onto the chair.

And as I find out how much my pelvis can turn out, turn back without hurting my spine or my sacrum, or torquing my front leg, I just work with that. Now, the spinal area has lots of mobility, so I'm going to turn my spine a little bit and allow this sense of opening the arms away from the heart, to bring this wonderful expansive quality to the pose. And I keep pushing down the top of this right thigh bone, bringing the pubic bone towards the navel. (deep breathing) Ah, delicious. And it's so easy to switch to the other side, bringing the arms down, re-straddle, letting a little relaxation to occur in between sides, and then after the straddle, shifting around so that I - facing my leg just to get started, and it isn't always possible to get that back heel down.

But you imagine that you've got a little, a little energy going down through that heel, even if your heel doesn't touch. You can see I'm turned quite far towards the chair through the pelvis. I'm going to work on lifting this hip, the left hip off of the left thigh, even as I descend the left thigh. Pubic bone rising, really helps to orient the pelvis nicely. Pubic bone dropping, low back crunching, pelvis pinching in the back.

So, inhale, exhale, pubic bone up. Top of the pelvis back, descend the top right thigh, inhale. Reach out. I like to think of my, right from the center of my heart, as just expanding out into eternity. Just that thought changes the pose beautifully.

I also like to think of that one foot that's quite grounded as really rooting. It's not a new term, but if you think it while you're doing it, it helps. One more breath. You can see I've got my palms turned up, my shoulders, elbows and hands like this. They don't like this as much, there's something in them that's - when palms are facing down then I get tightness, so, I'm going for the openness.

(laughing) Back to straddling the chair for a few moments, before we do the Warrior 1 variation. (invigorated humming) So again you can see how putting weight, yeah, putting weight. So when I do Warrior 2, standing, I need to hold my body way back from the fullness of the pose, or my knees grind. And even if the grinding doesn't hurt when it first occurs, ooh I just did it, not going to stay there, later, the inflammation increases, sometimes within a half an hour. So I've learned that that's not useful.

So I love being able to get lower down into these poses. Sitting on the chair. So Warrior 1: now we are going to turn the pelvis towards the leg. You could put a little block or something under this foot if you wanted to have some sense of grounding, but I'm really enjoying having it up. There's a certain awareness to keeping the foot up.

And then the back heel, don't even try to get it down. Just reach back from the thigh and the groin, as you turn you can feel the hamstring and the buttock working, that's great, and again this thing of lifting the pubic bone towards the navel. Softening, working, gently working the ribs back, feeling the lower spine lift away from the sacrum, and descend the top of your thigh bone into the foam. Lovely feeling. And then, there's the joy.

Inhaling the arms up, and I just want to remind you that the arms overhead can create a lovely mudra. Which is little-finger-side of the hand touching, and thumbs touching. Heels touching, heels of the hands. And it's like a lotus blossom opening towards the cosmos. And receiving.

You don't even have to lift your head. You can keep the head level. You can also just have the arms in a position that's more like a square goal-post position. For some of us with shoulder mischief, taking the arms straight up is not comfortable. Coming down, back to straddling one more time.

(satisfied sigh) And then, so you pause for a moment, you can kind of feel this this, uh, whoosh of energy into the pelvis and the legs after that work, you know? And it's like, oh yeah, that's so nourishing! Okay, so now facing the opposite side, with my left leg sitting on the chair, sitting completely, I bring the right pelvis around and then work into that resistance of collapse by lengthening the lower back, by working the belly. Lifting the pubic bone towards the navel. Softening the lower ribs down towards the navel. You can even use your hand on the back of the chair.

Okay. And then arms either straight up, lifting the head, or just kind of bent. This is my "glory halleluja" pose. (laughing) This is like, oh yes! You roll the elbows up and lift the head if it's possible, or head straight ahead. One more breath, descending the top of your left thigh, reaching back through the right heel, pubic bone up, release the hands.

Come back around. So here from the straddle, we're gonna take Warrior 1 a little further into a twist. So back we go to first side Warrior 1, really seating down fully in the thigh bone of the right leg which is on the chair. Left leg back, heel up, but resisting backward. Take a deep breath, exhale as you lean forward, you're pressing the lower belly back, the right hand is on the back of the chair, and then the left arm is gonna come around and hold onto the side of the chair.

Maybe you can get your elbow across your knee. The foot is still floating as you descend the right thigh bone. And reach back through the right foot. Now this just feels so good to me. I love this.

(deep breathing) And to have so much support. So come on up and come back around and straddle. To have so much support for a strong twist like that. It's strenuous beyond strenuous at my age to be doing that on the floor, and once in a while I do it, but I just love doing it this way. So here you come around, Warrior 1 again, left foot is the forward foot.

Left thigh descending, belly coming in and up, exhale, reach back through the right heel. Inhale, left hand is on the back of the chair. Exhale, your elbow reaches forward to see about whether or not just to hold on to the back of the chair with both hands, or can the elbow come down and across? This is my sometime stiffer side. Pushing down on the back of the chair, and hooking the elbow across, I lift the belly and turn.

I feel so much more length in my spine, than in most twists, doing it this way. It's really wonderful. (laughing) (deep breathing) I'm coming up now. You don't have to hold it any longer than you want to. (laughing) You might hold it longer than I did.

And then just feel. So I'm gonna sit a little more evenly on the chair now. And just allow all the energetic sensations to run through the body. I've got my palms facing up and my eyes closed, you can try that, too. Feels like my hands want to come to my belly.

Breathing into the belly. Breathing out. I allow the base of my skull to widen, and my shoulders to drop. Breathing into the belly, I'm here. Breathing up into the heart.

Exhale. I'm now. Palms up on the thighs. Spaciousness within and without the body. Feeling less bound by the confines of the body, more connected to the ineffable mystery.

(deep sigh) Palms to your heart, palms to the heart or palms together near the heart. Gratitude. I'm feeling gratitude for being able to share these practices with you. Thank you so much.


Elizabeth H
1 person likes this.
Patricia thanks for these practices that give support to those of us who need it while still getting the benefit of the pose!!
Patricia Sullivan
You're welcome - I'm so happy to know the support makes the difference! Love and Blessings
Christel B
Who would have thought of doing Warriors 1 and 2 on a chair!  Loved the twist, it all felt great.

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