Sun salutations (Surya Namaskar) seem pointless when you have a foot or ankle injury. Come in: Chair sun greetings!

Traditional sun salutations with a standing forward fold (Uttanasana), stepping back or jumping back to Chaturanga and rolling over the toes to an upward facing dog (Urdhva Mukha Svanasana) can irritate or further damage a foot or ankle injury.

Learn The Difference Between Sun Salutation A + Sun Salutation B (Yoga Photo Tutorial)

So be kind to your body as it heals! Skip the traditional sun salutations and try the chair sun salutations instead for many of the same benefits for your practice and day.

For these Chair Sun Salutations you will need an upright chair and possibly two yoga blocks. As with any workout for severe injuries, you should consult your doctor before starting.

Using a chair takes most of the load and pressure off your feet, but that doesn’t mean the exercise has to be easy or less beneficial.

Practice sun salutation in the chair with these step-by-step instructions:

Start by sitting or squatting on the edge of the chair. Activate your core to eliminate any swaying in your back that you would normally experience from reclining or resting in a chair.

Traditionally, in yoga, you find balance by pressing your feet firmly into the ground. Instead, as you move through this sequence, pull your muscles in and up towards your bones. This small change will keep your muscles working and be gentle on your injured area.

Follow this order for your Sun Greetings chair:

1. Sitting mountain posture (Tadasana)

The first step in all sun salutations is the mountain pose and your seated sun salutation is no exception.

Let us try it:

  • Sit in your chair with your feet on the floor
  • Your feet and knees can be touching or hip-width apart for more stability
  • Let your hands rest on your legs wherever you are comfortable
  • Inhale to gently draw in your stomach and extend it through your side, waist, and back
  • Exhale to release tension in your shoulders, neck, and jaw
  • Keep your head neutral and find a place where you can look straight ahead

2. Extended seated mountain pose (Urdhva Hasta Tadasana)

extended mountain
Next, find the length of your spine as you reach your arms above your head.

Let us try it:

  • Inhale and stretch your arms up
  • Extend your arms from your shoulders through your fingers
  • Rotate your palms towards each other and spread your fingers wide apart
  • Keep your elbows and hands shoulder-width apart or wider if necessary
  • Release tension in the neck and shoulders to avoid a “shrug”.
  • Keep your front core moving to avoid any sway in your back
  • Lift through your ribs to find the length of your spine
  • Lift your chin up slightly and look up

3. Sitting forward fold (Uttanasana)

fold forward
In the Chair Sun Salutations you don’t have to miss any of your favorite routes. You can even fold forward from your seat!

Let us try it:

  • Exhale and bend forward over your legs
  • Keeping the length of your spine as long as possible, then let your back curve above your knees as you lower your head and shoulders towards the floor
  • Bring your hands on the floor in line with your toes or use blocks under your palms if necessary
  • Separate your knees to make room for your chest as needed
  • Look at the floor under your chair

4. Half elevator (Ardha Uttanasana)

half elevator
Next, you will find length in your spine again.

Let us try it:

  • Inhale and lift your head and shoulders to find a flat back
  • Raise yourself as high as necessary to find a straight spine
  • Extend from the tailbone to the top of the head
  • Include your anterior and posterior core of the body to support your back and reduce any bending back
  • Your hands can stay on the floor or the blocks, or reach up to your fingertips for a little extra space
  • Look at the ground under your feet

5. Sitting forward fold (Uttanasana)

fold forward
As you begin to familiarize yourself with your sun salutation chair, it is effortless to breathe through the steps.

Let us try it:

  • Exhale and repeat the crease from step three above

6. Extended Sitting Mountain Pose (Urdhva Hasta Tadasana)

extended mountain
Keep flowing through your rhythm.

Let us try it:

  • Inhale as you straighten up and reach your arms above your head as you did in step 2 above

7. Seated Mountain Posture (Hasta Tadasana)

Mountain

Come back to where you started.

Let us try it:

  • Exhale and bring your hands back to your thighs as you did in Step 1 above

8.Sitting hand-to-big-toe pose (Utthita Hasta Padangustasana)

Hand to the knee to the left
Add a little balance work to your sun salutation sequence in your chair.

Let us try it:

  • Grab your right leg and grab it with both hands just below your knee
  • As you inhale, raise your right knee and bring it as close to your chest as possible
  • Press both sit bones into your chair to maintain balance
  • If you lifted your shoulders as you lifted your knee, bring them back to a neutral position
  • Engage your core to keep your spine upright and prevent it from bending back
  • Exhale and bring your right foot back on the ground
  • Keep your head neutral and find a place where you can look straight ahead
  • Repeat on the other side
  • Hand to the knee on the right

9. Seated cat / cow (Marjaryasana / Bitilasana)

cow
cat
Flow your breath through a seated cat / cow sequence.

Let us try it:

  • Move your hands to grab the sides of your chair for support
  • Inhale and slide your hands backwards as you lift and open your chest
  • Allow your shoulders to roll back
  • Lift your chin up so your head falls back, but resist the crunch at the back of your neck
  • Look up at the ceiling above
  • Release your hands from the chair and place them on your thighs
  • Exhale and slide your hands forward as you circle your back
  • Pull your belly button towards your spine
  • Round your shoulders and pull your chin toward your chest
  • Look towards your belly button or the tip of your nose
  • Repeatedly flow between the two shapes for a few deep breaths

10. Repeat

Repeat this sequence three to five times and you will find a nice flow that balances breath and movement – while protecting your injury.

Practice sun salutations on the chair to protect your injuries and help your body

Sun Greetings offer a plethora of benefits, and these Chair Sun Greetings do too. Start your day with this flow and you will likely find more focus, increase muscle tone and flexibility, reduce stress and anxiety, increase your energy levels, and help stabilize your mood.

This sequence is also great for practicing on break while working, even if you are not injured. You can do this discreetly from your office chair or lunch table when you need a few zen moments to de-stress and stay focused.

There’s nothing like the feeling you get while practicing the sun salutation, so don’t let your foot or ankle injury get in the way of your daily dose of the sun salutation. Practice the Sun Salutation Flow in this chair and enjoy all the benefits of traditional sun salutations while keeping your injury safe and stress-free.

Foot or ankle injury? These 7 chair yoga poses are just for you

0 —— 0 ————– January 11, 2022

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