The short answer is an emphatic YES! A chair is nothing more than another prop, like a mat, block or strap. Props help us be in postures more comfortably. They help keep us safe, and sometimes are an essential part of a yoga practice.
Okay, here’s a pop quiz. Take a look at the two photographs below.
Q: Which one of the folks in these two photos is doing Warrior 2?
A: Right, both of them.
Q: Which one has a more advanced yoga practice?
A: Okay, this is a trick question. We really can’t tell because we don’t know what’s going on in their heads or whether or not they are straining in Warrior 2 and just putting on a brave face. Why is this important? An advanced yoga practice is not defined by how many yoga parlor tricks you can do, or by how much you can contort your body into jaw dropping shapes. A yoga practice is so much more than that. It is defined by what is happening between the ears. Where is the attention focused? Is it focused on the appearance of the posture, and wanting to look good? Or is it focused on how the posture feels? It’s important that we experience the effort intended by the posture, but if we experience strain it’s just as important to give ourselves the permission to back off as needed, and to find a version that will support our own self care. This is where the yoga teacher comes in. It’s the teacher’s job to help the student find that place of comfort and stability in the posture. Sometimes that place is on the beach with the waves lapping at our feet, and sometimes it’s in a chair. It all depends upon what the student needs in that moment. With the teacher’s guidance, the student can find a joyful practice, no matter where you are. The video below is a short yoga sequence in a chair. It’s intended for someone with limited mobility, or anyone who wants a gentle practice.
Thanks to my friend Josue Cedeno for Warrior 2 on the beach.
Thanks to http://www.atlyogascene.com/2011/09/chair-yoga/ for the photo of yoga in a chair.