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American Stroke Foundation

ExerciseChair Yoga for Stroke Survivors

Chair Yoga for Stroke Survivors

Chair yoga is a great way to improve range of motion (ROM) and decrease stress. A chair provides stability you might need after a stroke while still allowing you to get in a workout. It is a great way to combine mindfulness and exercise. Chair yoga is wonderful way to start or end your day with an intention in mind throughout the session. In this video the intention is gratitude. Whether you watch this video once or complete it every day, there is always a new intention to be grateful for each day.

This post will walk you through all the different movements completed in the video along with time stamps. Before beginning, make sure you remember your ROM limits. You can use your unaffected side to help your affected side as needed. Only complete moves to where you are comfortable. Begin with your feet on the floor, hip-width apart, sitting upright with good posture. Let’s Begin!

Stay Connected Through Your Breath and Set an Intention (2:25- 4:07)

During the whole session, remember to stay connected with your breath. Begin with one hand on your heart, and one hand on your stomach. Breathe in through your nose and make an audible exhale through the mouth. Set the intention of your practice today by thinking of what you are grateful for.

Seated Marching (4:08- 5:59)

  • Imagine things outdoors such as the sun, flowers, and trees while you continue to breathe.
  • Place your palms on the tops of your legs.
  • Lift one knee and lower, alternating each leg at a slow pace. Keep your hips connected to your chair and your spine long. (6 per leg)
  • Then wiggle your feet lifting your heels and toes

Knee Extension (6:00- 7:20)

Press your right heel out by either lifting off the floor or sliding it forward. Then point and flex the right foot. Complete ankle circles. Switching legs after 45 seconds and repeat the sequence on the left side.

Leg Lifts (7:21- 8:11)

  • Imagine you are sitting outside on a bench or in the yard while you continue to breathe through the exercise.
  • With legs extended in front of you, alternate lifting one heel off the ground at a time. Only lift as high as you are comfortable. Don’t lose your upright posture and keep your hips connected to the chair.

Weight Shifting (8:12-8:55)

Keeping your feet hip-width apart, shift your weight to the left and then to the right. Lift each hip off the chair. Then after 30 seconds, switch to a circular motion using your core to draw a half circle starting from your left side and leaning forward until you return to your right side.

Shoulder Shrugs and Neck Stretches (9:11-10:22)

  • Lift the right ear to your right shoulder, then relax. Alternate each side slowly for 30 seconds.
  • With your head in neutral, take a deep breath in, on the exhale turn your head slowly to the left. Inhale back to center and exhale your head to the right. Repeat for 45 seconds.

Butterfly Exercise and Arm raises (10:23- 12:34)

  • Hands at your side, imagine a butterfly in front of you. Begin to watch and pretend it begins to fly above your head, follow it with your head and gaze. Imagine it flies back towards the ground. Again, follow it with your head and gaze towards the ground.
  • Pretend as if your hands are little butterflies. Wiggling your hands and fingertips maybe one at a time or both together, moving them around in front of you as if they are flying around. Remember to keep following your hands with your gaze.
  • Come to a stillness and be aware of the feelings and circulation in your arms and hands. Complete a few wrist circles on each hand.

Looking and Reaching for Flowers (13:05- 17:20)

  • Look and lean over to the left then circle around to the right, engaging your core, imagining looking at flowers.
  • Keep one hand straight down by the chair and the other reach forward to pretend to pick up a flower, again keeping the core engaged. Complete arm exercises of bending your elbow, bringing your hand close to your face to “smell the flower”. Then straighten it back out. Complete 4 times then place hand in lap.
  • Repeat the sequence 2 more times with your unaffected and affected arm.

Tree Hug (17:21- 18:13)

Open hands and arms out wide, then close arms to hug the tree. Repeat several times.

Seated Tree Pose (18:14- 21:15)

Ground your feet hip-width apart on the floor or cross one ankle over the other. On an inhale of a breath use your arms as branches from the tree and lift your arms as high as you are comfortable. Pretend there is a light breeze and sway your arms side to side or forward and back slowly, using your core. This pose is a combination of strength and serenity. End this pose with your hands by your side taking 3 deep breaths with an audible exhale.

Namaste (21:16- 23:00)

  • Place one hand on your heart and one on your stomach breathing for gratitude.
  • Take three more deep breaths in through your nose and out through your mouth.
  • A final time to reflect: Namaste means “The light in me sees and honors the light in you”

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