Can’t stand for yoga? Sit instead.

I told you this week about how effective yoga can be for relieving low-back pain. Though for people whose mobility is severely limited by pain, even the thought of a yoga class is daunting.

But I just came across a study that I hope will encourage anyone who might be nervous about taking a yoga class. It focused on something called “chair yoga.”

This form of yoga is just what it sounds like—you do it in a seated position. Which highlights one of the great things about yoga: it can be adapted to meet you where you are.

For people with back pain and or arthritis in their knees, standing for a yoga class may cause too much strain. But doing yoga in a seated position relieves that strain, and allows back and joint pain sufferers to regain function and reduce their pain.

The study I read looked at the effectiveness of chair yoga for older adults with osteoarthritis. After attending a 45-minute session of “Sit ‘N’ Fit Chair Yoga” twice a week for eight weeks, participants reported improvement in their pain. They also noted that pain interfered less with their daily lives. Plus, their fatigue and gait speed improved as well.

This study just goes to show you that for every obstacle to fitness, there’s a solution. If a regular yoga class seems out of reach, look for an adaptive yoga class like chair yoga. And who knows… After doing it consistently for a while, you may very well be strong enough to try other classes too.


Juyoung Park, Ruth McCaffrey, David Newman, Patricia Liehr, Joseph G. Ouslander. A Pilot Randomized Controlled Trial of the Effects of Chair Yoga on Pain and Physical Function Among Community-Dwelling Older Adults With Lower Extremity Osteoarthritis. Journal of the American Geriatrics Society, 2016; DOI: 10.1111/jgs.14717