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I get asked all the time, what do I need to get started doing chair yoga? It’s a good question, because there are soooo many prop options out there, and one can get lost in the plethora of choice. And now that most practice happens at home, people have been either buying their own props or making do with things they already have, like books and bath towels.
If your budget allows for it, I think it’s worthy to invest in your practice with a few good props. If you are already practicing with chairs, or are looking to get started, I have compiled a list of what I think are the most important tools to acquire. This list is in order of importance, in my opinion, and when I can, I offer some suggestions for things you might use at home.
Want just a quick list? Scroll down to the bottom of the blog.
What is a yoga chair?
A yoga chair, as it has come to be known, is simply a folding chair with no back. Some also have the bar between the front legs of the chair removed, which makes some shapes — very few really — more accessible.
Do you need one?
It depends. If you have a good folding chair, or even a sturdy dining room chair, you can probably do about 90%+ of chair yoga postures. But some, like the one pictured to the right, would not be accessible on a chair with a back.
Also, if you are down for DIY projects there are some tutorials online like this one that show you how to remove the pieces of a folding chair to make a yoga chair.
If you are not that industrious (like me) or downright too busy (like everyone), here are a few chairs that you might consider:
The Pune Chair is a classic and most of the people that use it love it. The drawbacks are that it is pretty tiny and contains titanium dioxide. Each chair has a warning from the state of California on the bucket of the chair about this. But the guy who makes these will be happy to ease your mind with a quick email. (Seems like this chemical is in a lot of other stuff)
Qarm Auxiliary Yoga Chair is one I came across recently and have ordered it. It has a double back bar for stability, and no front bar. It’s also a little bigger, cheaper and ships quickly. I’ll report back:)
A Chair for Taller People this one has great reviews, and is one of the only things I came up with when looking for a bigger yoga chair. It is pricey, but the shipping is included. The only thing is-it has a bar between the front legs of the chair. Again, probably not a huge deal.
A Second Yoga Mat
The second most important prop for chair yoga is a thinner second yoga mat, like a travel mat. Why? Traction. Chairs are often made of metal that can be slippery, and a thin easily foldable mat can help make some postures more stable. I use this Hugger Mugger Mat. It’s cheap and I have had it for years.It used to travel with me everywhere, ya know, when we used to do that..
You’ve probably heard that books are good substitutions for blocks, and they can be. However, blocks are the most versatile of props and if you are going to invest in your practice, chair or not, getting a pair or two of blocks is the way to go.
Here is my recommendation if you have the budget for:
2 blocks : Get a pair of these Manduka recycled foam blocks
4 blocks: Add a pair of these Manduka cork blocks
6 blocks: Add a pair of these YogaAccessories wooden blocks
*Wooden are really my favorite as they are the best for scaffolding, but to get the most bang for your buck start with foam and cork. Also, repeat after me: no half-size blocks! Always go for the standard: 9'' x 6'' x 4'' size.
This quick release strap from Tools for Yoga is the best one I have ever used, hands down. It’s made from really nice study and soft material, and there are no awkward metal buckles that need an instruction manual to use. They are also so easy to adjust, buckle, and unbuckle which is so important in chair yoga!
*Note this website has great bulk discounts.
There is nothing like a little weight to anchor you in a forward fold or a restorative pose. They are also relatively cheap, especially if you don’t buy them already filled which can jack up the shipping costs. My advice? Get them empty and fill them up with rice or store-bought sand. Don’t feel like filling them up? Order through Katonah Yoga.
*Home substitution: Good old fashion Jane Fonda-esque ankle weights.
I love a good bolster, and I have both a rounder and a flatter one. I use the rounder one more, and I really like this one from Retrospec Sequoia, especially since the cover comes off and is easily washable.
*Home substitution: Pillows
This may come as surprise as the last on my list, but yoga blankets are hands down the easiest prop to swap out for something you already have in your home. So..while I love a good yoga blanket —bath or beach towels work just fine. If you have the budget, check these out from Katonah Yoga. They are so soft!
In summation, for chair yoga or any yoga practice, my recommendation is that you have the following:
Have questions or comments? Please leave them here:)