Too Tight to Stretch Artwork
Season 3 - Episode 4

Tension Releasing Chair Class

15 min - Practice


Take a break in this tension-releasing class that turns your chair from your foe into your friend. We find space in the hips, low back, and shoulders through familiar poses like Figure Four, Extended Side Angle, and Down Dog. You will feel relieved, and ready to continue your day.
What You'll Need: Mat, Chair, Blanket

About This Video

Apr 21, 2022
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Welcome back, friends. Thank you so much for joining me today. Today we're going to learn how to use our chair as our friend and not our foe. So this is a really great practice if you find yourself sitting for long periods of time. If you work at a computer, if you're traveling, any time you're sitting for long periods of time those hip flexors start to shorten, the psoas starts to shorten. So this is a great way to take a break and use your chair. So you're going to need a nice sturdy chair like a dining room chair, something that doesn't have wheels, that isn't going to move around on your yoga mat. And you're going to place your chair on your mat so it feels nice and sturdy. And then you're going to find yourself a yoga blanket. And you're just going to give it a basic fold and we're going to check in with your height and alignment. So we'll just take a seat onto our chair and check in with how your thighs are laying in parallel to the floor. For me, I'm a little bit vertically challenged, so I'm shorter. So my thighs angle downward. So to bring myself into more alignment, I'm going to bring my blanket underneath my feet. For you, if you're a little bit taller and your knees rise up closer to the heart, you can bring that blanket fold underneath your seat. So just take a moment here to land, bringing the hands to the thighs, allowing the eyes to close. Take a big breath in through the nose. Exhale with a and just start to release your day. As you tune into your breath, becoming more present, feeling your connection with the earth under the feet, feeling your connection with the chair under your seat. And when you're ready, allow the eyes to gently open. And we're just going to start by giving our right knee a hug. So we're going to lift that right knee up towards the heart and just give it a little squeeze with the hands. We'll start to sway that knee from side to side, maybe even some little knee circles and just see how things are feeling. We'll circle around the other way. And then as we bring the knee up for a little bit more of a squeeze, we're just going to gently cross that right ankle over the left thigh and knee. And you'll find that we found ourselves in this basic figure four shape that you may be familiar with. It's just in a different relationship to gravity. So find a nice spot for that ankle to rest. There's a nice little groove right at the edge of the quadricep muscle before the kneecap that the ankle can rest in comfortably. We'll give a little dorsiflexion to the foot, pressing the heel away and flexing the toes towards the knee. From here, we're just going to encourage that right thigh and knee to drop closer to the floor as much as feels comfortable and correct for your hip and your body today. And as we feel into that, take a nice big inhale, rise up through the chest. And then I'm going to encourage you to take your right hand over towards the sole of your right foot. And as we take a hold of that foot, your left hand is going to wrap around and you're going to grab onto your chair. If your chair has arms, you can hold onto the arm. You can grab onto the seat or grab onto the chair back. And we're just going to start to take a nice gentle twist towards the left side. And as we twist to the left, there's gentle little push pull that's happening at my hand and my foot. So my foot's pressing against my hand, but my hand is resisting to get a little bit more opening through that thoracic spine, the middle back, the ribs. Slow, deep breaths. Those audible exhales whenever you feel tension creeping in will slowly unwind through the head, through the shoulders, through the spine, all the way back to center. Take a nice big breath in, lift up. And with our exhale, we're going to start to fold forward, dropping the belly, dropping the heart and dropping the head. And as you allow yourself to lean forward, going as far as feels good for your hip, lifting the gaze, rising up through the heart, come up to a nice, tall spine. And then we're just going to gently wrap that leg. So right leg is wrapped over left. Go ahead and give a little lift up through the heart. And then we're going to twist over to the right side now. So can hold that right knee with the left hand, the right hand again can come to your chair, arm or your chair back and just gently twist to the right side. Sitting tall and widening and broadening through the chest. Take another in breath. And with our out breath unwinding head, neck, shoulders and spine, go ahead and release that right foot down. I will bring left knee up into the chest for a hug. Give it a squeeze and a little sway.

A little circling. And then we're going to cross that left ankle, that dorsiflex foot to find that figure four shape. We'll encourage left thigh and knee to drop towards the floor, left hand over towards the sole of the foot, right hand to the chair, wherever it works. And we'll twist over to that right side. Feel the seat nice and solid at center. And then we'll unwind slowly. Head, neck, shoulders, spine. Dropping the belly, the heart leaning forward into that shape as far as it feels good and yummy. Head releases, jaw releases. We can even let the arms dangle forward to bring in a little bit of extra leverage if you're a sucker for sensation. And then to rise up, we're going to lift the gaze, lift the heart, sit up nice and tall. Go ahead and wrap that left leg over the right leg, snuggle the thighs as close together as it works for you. We'll hold on to that left knee with the right hand, left hand comes around and behind, and we're going to begin to turn and twist. Big breaths. Unwinding to center through the head first, shoulders follow, spine follows, unwrap the legs. Go ahead and stand up with me and we're just going to move our chair and we're going to move our blanket. So you're going to take your chair to the top of your yoga mat, again, making sure all four feet are on the mat so it's solid. Give it a little test to make sure it feels like it won't move. And then we're going to bring that blanket fold right here in front of the chair. Hands to the chair seat, start to step your feet back and just give a little pedal, almost like we're in a chair downward facing dog. Pedal out those legs and then we're going to step the right foot forward towards the blanket and bring it right underneath our right knee. As we bring it underneath our right knee, you can wiggle that left heel back towards the shape of a lunge. And then with an in breath, let the chest lift, let the gaze lift, take a nice big inhale. And then with our exhale, you're going to rotate that back left heel about 45 ish degrees. We're still supported with the chair. Right hand comes nice and solid. And then that left arm is going to reach up and open towards the sky. So a little bit of an extended side angle play here. Take another in breath and with our out breath, come back down, root into the chair, curl the left toes back under and step right foot back pedal it out. And then we're going to step left foot forward, bring that ankle directly under the knee, wiggle that right heel back a bit with an in breath, lift the heart, lift the gaze, stretch out that back right leg. And then we'll rotate the heel 45 ish degrees. See what works for your joints. Root the left hand at the center of your chair seat and then let that right arm expand to the sky. Big open heart. Exhale, bring that hand back to the chair, curl back to the toes, step back to that chair down dog a little pedal. And then we're just going to lower our knees down onto the blanket. From here, we're going to transition onto our backs. This folded blanket is going to stay where it is and it's going to come underneath the back of our pelvis. So if you lift your hips and your buttocks up onto the blanket, we can then use our hands behind us to support and just sweep those legs up onto the chair. Start to lower down to the elbows and come down onto your back and just give yourself a chance to land. Big breath in. Exhale it all. Take a big breath in. One more. Exhale it all. And we're just going to start to play with figure four again from this position. So we'll bring the right knee up and then you're just going to start to cross that right ankle over the left thigh and knee. You can use the hand if you need a little bit of assistance. Again, a little flexion to that foot and begin to send the thigh and the knee gently forward towards your chair. This may be plenty for your hip and your low back today, but if you want a little bit deeper experience of this stretch, we can take that left calf and the left foot that's resting on the chair and just begin to slowly slide it along the chair closer to your belly. Take it a couple inches and pause. Check in. How does that feel? Maybe you want to slide it a few more inches. Again, pause and check in. Or maybe you even want to bring that heel all the way forward towards the front edge of that chair seat. Again, if you're a sucker for sensation, take a big breath in. Exhale it all. Really allowing the pelvis to sink down into the softness of the blanket at the back body. Shoulders are broad. And then we'll just slide that heel back along the chair to let the calf rest. We'll release that right ankle, bring both legs to the chair and let everything go. Feel the effects. Notice the imbalance that you may be feeling in the two sides. And we'll take it to the left side. So knee comes in. We're going to cross that ankle, dorsiflex that foot and just begin to encourage the thigh and the knee to move towards the chair. Perhaps staying here or again exploring sliding that opposite right heel and calf along the chair and just slowly inching the thigh closer and closer. It may be a totally different experience than what the other side was. Listen to your body. Pause when you find your edge. Breathe with ease. Maybe even letting the edges of the mouth curl up towards a smile. Feel that release. And then exhale, sliding that calf back onto the chair. Release the ankle across and allow both legs to land.

Big breath in. Full breath out. We'll now bring both knees up into the belly. So give both knees a nice big hug and squeeze. And we're just going to rock and massage the back of the pelvis along that blanket pad. Head can roll ear to ear. And then nice and easy, we're going to roll over to our right side. And as we roll over to our right side, bringing the legs with us, bringing the arms with us, give a little roundedness to your spine. Keeping the knees here on the right, let the left arm with an in-breath reach up towards the ceiling. And then with a nice big exhale, we're going to open that left arm out, perhaps bending the elbow. See what feels good for you. Slow, deliberate breaths. Feel free to close those eyes as it feels safe. And then keeping that left arm towards the earth, we're going to bring the knees still together up towards the ceiling, using the core. And then we'll roll all the way over to the left side. Let both the arms come. Let both the knees come. Curl yourself up around the back. And then inhale, right arm to the sky. Open up through the heart. Play with whatever angle that right arm is craving. Soften the jaw and allow yourself to drop and surrender. Again, to come out, the arms stay where they are. Knees stay glued together. Use the core to inhale. Lift the knees back up to center. Give yourself a nice big squeeze. And then we're going to prepare for Shavasana. So it may have felt really yummy for you to be in this shape earlier with the legs fully supported. So feel free to land here for Shavasana. If you're craving legs long, you can always slide your legs long through the legs of the chair. So just allow yourself to land. Snuggle that sacrum down into the blanket. Snuggle the shoulders down into the floor. Take one final big deliberate inhale, the biggest inhale you've taken yet today. Fill up those lungs and open the mouth and let it all go. Softening the effort of the breath. And please feel free to pause the video here to give yourself as much time as you have available to soak in the sweetness. But if you're ready to rise up with me, start to wiggle the fingers and the toes. We'll bring the knees back in for a hug. Roll gently to our side. Rising up nice and slow and mindfully. And as we rise up, take a moment to close the eyes as that feels safe. I'll invite you to bring your right hand to your belly, your left hand over your heart and just take a moment to check in. Hands to the heart in gratitude. The light in me honors the light in you. Namaste.


Jenny S
2 people like this.
Today I found out that I am a “sucker for sensation” 🤣😂 This practice is the perfect remedy for those long days spent at my desk 👍
Kari Sims Anthon
Jenny S me too :) I am so glad that you enjoyed it!
Rachel H
2 people like this.
Lovely flow, I especially enjoyed figure 4 lying down with support of the chair. The lower back hips and sacrum seem able to relax and breathe more fully. So good. Thank you so much. 
Kari Sims Anthon
Rachel H  that’s awesome! I am so glad you found some ease. Thanks for joining me! 
Roslyn G
2 people like this.
Really enjoyed the class.
Kari Sims Anthon
Roslyn G  thanks so much for taking the time to join me and to comment! Hope to practice with you again soon!
Sandra Židan
Thanks, Kari, for this wonderful practice! Namaste!
Kari Sims Anthon
Sandra Židan thank YOU for taking the time to practice with me and to comment!

1 person likes this.
I have a lot of mid back and shoulder tightness could you recommend a good session to follow. Thank you
Kari Sims Anthon
Bernadette I am really enjoying the new back focused classes by @hattie, you should check them out! 
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