The global pandemic has shut down most of the world, from retail stores to gyms to offices. If you’re working from home right now, chances are that you don’t have the best set up. I’m dealing with back pain and stiffness constantly and am looking for an alternative to just going to town with a massager. That’s where Lynn Lehmkuhl comes in. This retired yoga instructor discovered chair yoga, a low impact form of yoga meant for seniors. But, because we’re all in need of some realignment, it’s really for everyone. We talked to her about what chair yoga does and how to get started. Her book, Chair Yoga for Seniors, is available on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and in bookstores, for when we can actually go into a bookstore.
Jillian Lucas: How did you discover chair yoga?
Lynn Lehmkuhl: In 2015, after being a registered yoga teacher for 13 years I became increasingly aware of a rapidly growing segment of the yoga market—chair yoga. Fueled by a burgeoning senior population, chair yoga was becoming the ideal form of the ancient practice for seniors. I sought out specialized teacher training, realizing that this was a niche that was only going to grow in popularity.
JL: Why was it important to you to write this book?
LL: I have been teaching chair yoga for 5 years, to senior groups, in-home private sessions, workplace classes and Alzheimer patients. When I started out, I read every book on the subject in order to build a deep body of knowledge. I became increasingly aware of how complicated most of the texts were on the subject. From my hands-on experience I knew that it was important to communicate in a simple, uncomplicated and engaging manner. When I was approached by Skyhorse Publishing to write this book I was thrilled to be able to create an easy-to-follow guide that was challenging but always safe and encouraging. I photographed my female and male models (friends) in their living rooms. I strived to write a how-to that was fun, inspiring, inclusive and most of all, relatable.
JL: How does chair yoga compare to regular yoga?
LL: Basically, the only difference is that all of the yoga poses in chair yoga are done sitting down. Each asana in “regular” yoga has a sitting version. The most important reason to consider using a chair in one’s yoga practice is that it provides a safe and secure place to exercise. Seniors are hardly the only population who can benefit. Anyone, at any age, who is recovering from joint surgery, has chronic knee issues, or suffering from depression, can realize the benefits of a yoga practice
JL: While it’s directed towards seniors, we’re all probably spending a lot more time in our chairs. How can people of all ages incorporate chair yoga into their lives?
LL: I’m sure that you have heard the line, sitting is the new smoking. During this pandemic I imagine there is a whole lot of sitting going on! Incorporating some chair yoga poses, whether you are hard at work on Zoom or watching insane amounts of TV, can relieve anxiety, increase mobility and maintain muscle strength. I have a 20 minute and 30 minute routine for both beginners and intermediate practitioners that is easy to follow and remember. All four routines begin with a five minute, whole body warm up that can be done to attain many benefits of the practice. If you are going to be sitting, might as well move!
JL: What accessories do you recommend people who want to try yoga have, like weights or resistance bands?
LL: The essential accessory to practice chair yoga is a straight back chair. If you really want to incorporate a chair yoga routine into your life, I recommend having 3 and 4 pound dumbbells handy. I introduce the weights early on in the routines to help tone muscles in the entire body.
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