I was looking on Pinterest for great pictures of chair yoga for back pain to share with my students. But I couldn’t find the method I was looking for. It’s one of the simplest, yet most effective ways to sit to help with a bad back. So here’s a photo of one of my students demonstrating it:
In Iyengar Yoga circles I’ve heard it called ‘Upavista Konasana on a chair’, but I just call it ‘sitting cowboy style’. The thighs need to be pressed back wide, away from the chair rails. If you’re lucky, this will fire up muscles around the hips. That area is key to supporting the muscles of the back and therefore the spine. So chair yoga for back pain can be this simple.
If you’d like to add an extra level of difficulty, you can add an arm exercise as shown. Parvatasana (or Baddhangulyasana) is simply interlocking the fingers and raising the arms up. This can help lift the abdomen and chest, which also protects the back. Don’t forget to change the interlock of the fingers to repeat a second time.
Many of us are spending longer sitting at home, and less time out and about. Being less active can cause back problems. Some people are sitting in home offices on zoom calls for many hours everyday, which can exacerbate existing back issues. When you try this pose for the first time you may find you can only manage a minute or two, but chair yoga for back pain will improve with repetition, perhaps extending the amount of time by one minute per day.
Eventually you may find it more comfortable to sit like this than to sit in the ‘normal’ way. Making sure the screen you are looking at is lifted up to eye level will also help with posture. Good luck!