Chair Yoga Artwork
Season 1 - Episode 8

Back, Spine, and Abs

20 min - Practice


Karen guides us in a full-body chair practice designed to stretch, strengthen, and awaken the back, spine, and abdominals.
What You'll Need: Chair

About This Video


Read Full Transcript

Hi everybody, welcome back. We're going to do a little practice today on our abs, our spine, our back. I just want to mention that almost all of these practices that we've been doing really do incorporate the whole body. And certainly when we use the breath, we're always using the whole body. So with the awareness, the breath and the movement, it really is a full body experience.

Okay, so we're going to find our seat, just finding the feet directly underneath the knees, the shoulders relaxed and a nice erect spine on the inhale and the exhale just allows us to ground. So let's just find that for two deep breaths, inhaling tall, up and out through the crown of the head and exhale and just find grounding, beautiful. So we're going to do a little cat cow just to get into the spine a little bit. We've done this a couple of times before. So nice, tall, erect spine, steady through the hips, take an inhale and then with your exhale, let's roll out the spine, tucking the chin, belly to the spine, curving, little pelvic tilt, inhale, let's bring it all forward, arching and rising.

Let's do that a couple more times, exhaling, rolling it out into your cat. You can go as deep as you'd like, bringing the breath with the movement and arching. Last one, exhale, deep exhale, roll it through and inhale, bring it forward, coming back to neutral. So we're going to extend the left foot out and as we extend the left foot out, we're going to move our buttocks out a little bit so we have nice long line through the leg here. And when you're ready, you can have the left hand hold onto the chair or be on the leg.

We're going to inhale the right arm. We're going to bend through the right elbow, bend through the knee and have a little bit of an abdominal crunch, a little accordion belly. Take an inhale, stretch through the left toes and up through the right fingers, exhale, belly to spine, cross the body, inhale, come on up, exhale, let's go deep. Let's do it again for two more, inhaling, stretching up and pointing, exhaling through, inhale up and exhale, come on through, beautiful and release everything to neutral. Let's take the right foot out, left foot underneath the left knee, inhale the left arm up.

So we're finding that deep, deep extension through the left fingers, up through the spine and out through the toes of the right foot. When you're ready, inhale tall, stretch, exhale, let's do the crunch, bring the elbow to the knee. Crossing over, inhale tall, exhale, crunch it out and exhale deeply as you roll, up and out, one more up and out, beautiful. Let's go ahead and come to a neutral spine, slip back a little bit into the chair as you exhale into your cat, rolling it back, excuse me, inhale coming forward, arching. Let's do that again, exhale, really feeling the spine, feeling the abdominals, feeling this beautiful movement stretch, lubrication and space and exhale it out, inhale come forward with the heart and come to a neutral spine, nice.

Okay, so we're going to take the knees open wide and we're going to scoot a little bit towards the edge of the chair and I want you to take the knees as wide as you can get them and the knees are going in the direction of toe number two or three and we're going to inhale nice and tall here and we're going to exhale and come forward into the center of the room. So we're hinging at the hips, nice and let's go ahead and let the eyes come down towards the floor, so the crown of the head is into the center of the room and we can release the forearms, the elbows to the knees. For some of us this will be a deep enough stretch and we will stay here and breathe into the back and into the hips, we're going to breathe deeply here and when you're ready if you like you will rise and the palms will come to the hands and you'll exhale allow for the belly to come to the spine and the inhale will bring you to upright. Some of us are going to go a little bit lower and I'd like to just remind you that taking the head down below the heart can be a little tricky for some of us so please make sure that you rise very very slowly because if you have issues with blood pressure this movement of blood to the brain, the blood to the whole head region can really just offset us a little bit. If that is troubling to you, you will just go ahead and do what we just did otherwise you'll find your block and come down in a gentle manner.

We have three levels for the block, high, medium and low and some of us will go to the floor so let's go ahead and put it at the highest level, we're inhaling tall through the buttocks, hinging at the hips, bringing the heart forward, nice flat back, elbows to the knee and then we're just tipping the eyes and the chin down so nice long cervical spine. Some of us will stay here and some of us will drop the hands, the palms of the hands into the block. We'll take a breath or two here and we'll really feel the breath and the stretch come to the mid-back and to the hips and for some of you you'll stay here, some of us will come down a little lower, still a flat back for as long as you can allowing for the heart to descend, you might bend through the elbows looking down, nice long cervical spine, crown of the head is into the center of the room, breathe here and press down through the feet as you engage the legs and the knees might open wider, you'll feel it in the hips and maybe some of you will drop even lower to the lower setting, still a flat back if you can. Take several breaths here so you're in the hip creases, you're in the feet, the legs, the outer hips and the back, this might be enough and some of you might allow for the hands to come to the floor and bend through the elbows, flat back for as long as you can and when you get to your point, you'll know what it is and just gently tuck the chin slowly rolling through the head and letting the head go towards the floor, please breathe a lot, even the breath up and we're going to keep that breath and that concentration and the mind's eye moving the breath to the areas in the hips, the buttocks, the lower back and you're just going to play with moving down a little lower. To rise it's tricky so we want to inhale, we're going to exhale and bring the belly to the spine as we lengthen the head into the center of the room and straighten through the arms, we're going to pick up the elbows and let them come to the forearms and let them come to the knees, press down through the feet, inhale, press through the elbows, nice flat back, keep looking down and come to a halfway mark where you're looking downward, the crown is at a diagonal between the chair, the buttocks on the chair and the ceiling.

Take a moment here to breathe, let things come back to normal, the head now is above the heart and then when you're ready find the palms onto the knees, press through the palms, elbows are tied to the body, flat back, belly to spine and you're just repealing upwards and you're just going to take a moment here and then look directly in front of you, heel toe the knees, take an inhale tall, exhale into the sit bones down through the feet and one more like that, beautiful, let's go into another cat cow, so exhale and roll everything out, nice and steady and slow here and inhale bring it forward and exhale come all the way back, rolling it out, belly to spine, curving in, inhale, just rolling through, arching through the spine and exhale come to a neutral spine, beautiful, let's take a moment here and so we're going to take the block away and move it off to the side as we move into some windshield wipers, we've done the windshield wipers in another practice, so when you're ready inhale tall and exhale let's just have the feet be wide and roll the knees over to the left and downwards and go to the other side, just a handful of those, just releasing that crease that you had earlier in your forward fold and just releasing the hip and buttocks area this just feels very very nice and smooth and relaxing, beautiful, very nice, okay and let's just heel toe and come back to a nice neutral spine, steady in the hips, steady in the feet, so we're going to have this little opening of the knees and bringing them inwards and so we're going to work a little bit of the abductors and the adductors and we're just going to open the knees, you can roll to the outer sides of the feet here and then just bring them in, so I don't want you to touch the knees, I want you to feel a little bit of tension between the legs, that's just really using the muscles there, open them up and bring them in, open them up and bring them in, a couple of times like this more, beautiful, we're just finding those inner and outer legs and when you're ready just come to the center here, we're going to find the block one more time and we're going to have it at the wide setting and we're just going to put it right between the legs, not down here on the knee but right above the knee here on the insides of the legs and press down through the feet and inhale nice and tall and I want you to just gently squeeze the block, now this might not look like we're doing very much but we are, so we're squeezing the block, just engaging the inner and outsides of the legs and also I want you to have that erect spine, release shoulders and let the legs do the work, so the abdominals are holding you nice and upright but the legs are really really working here, so we're pressing down through the feet and we're rising up through the head, through the crown, I'd like for us to move the block and bring it to the next setting, so it's a little narrower here between the legs, so gently hug it, press down through the feet and now squeeze the block, it's ever so gently and it's like you're receiving the breath and as you receive the inhale you squeeze through the inner and outer legs, you also press down through the feet and come up out through the crown, so there's a lot of force here, upwards, downwards, side to side, let's press through the feet and hug the block just for a little more, beautiful and then release that squeeze and there's just one more setting with the block, turning it to its narrow, narrowest setting and this is a little more tricky to hold, so when you're ready press down through the feet and inhale tall, feel yourself on those sit bones and carefully squeeze the block a little gently, maybe a little more and you'll really feel the action of the muscles contracting and holding your block and it's tiny but they're really really working, beautiful and release and let's go ahead and remove the block and put it off to the side, nice, we'll take a little cat cow, exhale, inhale, arch through, let's take one more like that, exhale, roll the spine and inhale, arch, finding nice height and then come to a neutral spine, so we're going to open the legs wide one more time and we are going to come forward but it's a little different this time, we're going to hold the forearms and we're going to bring the elbows in front of the shoulders and when you define the feet, again the knees are going to go in the direction of the toes and you're nice and tall up off the sit bones and when you inhale tall, you then are going to exhale and come through hinging at the hips like you did before and you're sending the arms into the center of the room and from here you're going to drop the elbows underneath the shoulders and the eyes are going to look to the floor, so we're going to stay here for a moment and it's as if we're pulling the forearms to the floor, the elbows are going towards the floor underneath the shoulder, inhale, exhale, nice flat back as the elbows come to the floor, the crown of the head into the center of the room and believe it or not this is quite different to the last forward fold we did, so you have the gravity and the weight of these arms and keep breathing here, you'll really feel a deep, deep stretch in the backs of the legs, the hamstrings, the whole buttocks, the hips, the lower back, beautiful and if you like you can just tuck the head, tuck the chin just for a moment and then bring it back into the center of the room, beautiful, hard to come up here so press through the feet, inhale, head is into the center of the room, exhale, belly to the spine, press through the feet and let the inhale lift you up, then bring the arms out in front and come all the way back, release the hands, heel toe, let's find our cat cow, be very careful, exhale, inhale, come forward, you can't do enough of these cat cows, they're lovely to do in the beginning of the morning, same thing with windshield wipers, beautiful, come to a neutral spine, so I'd like for you to just sit back a little bit into the chair, feel fully supported, let the heels be under the knees, inhale nice and tall, exhale into the hips, buttocks, feet, release the shoulders, let the palms be down for a moment and close the eyes, steady things up here, even breath, find the left side of the body and the right side of the body and now find the whole central axis, this beautiful spine, inhaling tall, exhaling releasing, beautiful and when you're ready let's bring the hands to the heart, thank you for your practice, namaste, namshanti, shanti, shanti.


Jenny S
3 people like this.
Oh my, Karen! That last forward bend was a doozy! I’m finding these practices to have some deceptively challenging nuggets...using the chair really helps to reach into the deep layers - love this!
2 people like this.
Hi, Ms. Kelly!  Just wanted to say thank you for this practice.  I've been suffering from some really atrocious lower back pain and this practice reduced the pain significantly in only one "go."  I'll be following along again tomorrow, that's for certain!
Peter Ferber
Dear Ms. Kelly:  I have a 94-year old mother, the last surviving sibling of eleven children, living alone and independently.  During a joint-call session with my mother and her doctor, I had suggested chair yoga to the doctor as a means for personal maintenance, which she strongly endorsed.  I confess that, sight unseen, my expectations were diminished, because I kept one of silly thoughts that goes something like, "Well, it's confined to a chair.  How dynamic can that be?"  The answer: spectacularly.  

I spent three consecutive days with my mother, in her living room, the two of us sitting on two adjacent chairs and following your program.  On the forth night, I told her I was too busy to come that night, and did she feel like doing the fourth class by herself?  Yes!

Your classes have provided an exceptional bonding and a strongly proposed extension on on life's lease.

You need to be a subscriber to post a comment.

Please Log In or Create an Account to start your free trial.

Footer Yoga Anytime Logo

Just Show Up

Over 2,900 yoga and meditation practices to bring you Home.

15-Day Free Trial