Chair Yoga for Anxiety and Depression

chair yoga for anxiety

Are any of you struggling with all the things going on in the WORLD right now? It’s very easy to let the heaviness get you down. Anxiety and depression is a common thing right now, but there are some things we can do to help alleviate it. Living in survival mode for days on end is NOT A GOOD THING!

We all have to find ways to adapt, and one of those things is finding new ways in which we release stress. A lot of us, me included, are used to going to some kind of class: a yoga class, the gym, water aerobics, or walking with a friend. And now we can’t.

Although we can still exercise from home, or walk by ourselves, it’s not the same and takes a lot of motivation. However, as I mentioned in a previous post, WE HAVE GOT TO KEEP MOVING!

Movement can be VERY effective for counteracting anxiety and depression. It doesn’t’ have to be major movement. I know a lot of you out there are very limited on what you can and can’t do as far as movement goes. NO WORRIES. There are things you can do, even while sitting in a chair.

I just uploaded a short video to my YouTube station with some stretches and exercises to get your whole body moving. Don’t expect to sweat with this workout, those classes are coming, but do expect to feel better.

If you want to skip to the relaxation portion of the video, it is marked in the description. 

How will this chair yoga class help with anxiety and depression?

  • It will get your mind off whatever you’re stressing about
  • Movement and stretching are proven to help with your sense of wellbeing.
  • I show you a few techniques to help relieve stiffness in your neck and tension headaches.
  • Best of all, I guide you through a 10 minute guided meditation to help you relax every part of your body.

Movement is so important and vital not only for our physical health but for our emotional health as well. Know that you are NOT alone in this. We are all in this together.

This will take effort on your part. None can move your body for you. Push through the dread, the feelings of being overwhelmed, the hopelessness, and DO SOMETHING ABOUT IT.

We will get through this. Be easy on yourself, take care of yourself. Reach out and share this with anyone who you think could benefit from this.

Check out my other video tutorials, and don’t forget to love and take care of your FEET!

Until next time my friends.

Sending love your way,




Picture of Jan Howell

Jan Howell

Whether it’s a new recipe, a fun craft, or some handy tips for your garden and home, I hope to empower and inspire you with skills that you can use to create joy, improved health, and to do it in a simple way.

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Adaptive Yoga: An Exercise Anyone Can Do

What comes to your mind when you hear the word “yoga”?  Perhaps you visualize a person folded in half or maybe you have an image of a lady with her leg wrapped around her neck like a scarf. Yoga can be very intimidating for some people, therefore they never try it. I am here to tell you that adaptive yoga is awesome and it’s an exercise that anyone can do.

You don’t have to be a flexible gumby, or a young healthy college student. You can adjust yoga to fit any body type and condition.What’s stopping you from practicing yoga?

Some of the reasons that keep people from trying yoga are:

  • joint problems
  • age
  • weight
  • chronic illness
  • inflexibility
  • and other physical limitations

These things do NOT need to stop you from benefiting from one of the best forms of exercise out there. Yoga is not only great for the physical body, but does wonders for your mental health as well. Yoga can change your life. It did mine.

Play Video

How yoga helps me

Almost 25 years ago, I was introduced to yoga. I had just been diagnosed with an autoimmune condition and I did not feel well. Exercising was something I loved to do, but couldn’t anymore because it totally wiped me out. I became depressed, overwhelmed and stressed out. ( I was not in a good place). There was a community yoga class advertised and I enrolled.

Now this was back in the day when yoga was not a popular thing. There were no yoga studios in town. This class was held in the hall of a community high school, lockers and all. Yep, not the most aesthetic place to practice yoga, but it was good enough to get me hooked. Hooked for life!

I continued to study yoga, and shortly after began teaching. Sharing yoga is my passion! Even though I experience Lupus and a few other health conditions, yoga keeps me going. I seriously don’t know where I would be without it, probably still lying on the couch with fatigue and pain. You can get the full story in my book.

Yoga helps me manage stress, reduces the inflammation in my body, and keeps the stiffness at bay. I can tell when I miss a few days. My body craves it. I used to practice and teach power and flow yoga, but my now my body resonates with a more gentle type of yoga.

So what is so great about adaptive yoga?

Let a few of my senior yoga students tell you why they love yoga.

1-  Can slow the effects of stress and aging

It is pretty much a given that yoga is good for stress, right? Well here is some interesting research that shows how reducing stress by doing yoga can reduce the negative effects of aging.

Researchers measured biomarkers of cellular aging and stress before and after the 12-week yoga program and found that yoga slowed down markers of cellular aging and lowered measures of inflammation in the body.

2-  Increases flexibility

Most people think you have to BE flexible to practice yoga, but it’s actually a benefit that comes from doing yoga. Stretching the body is so healthy. Stretching keeps the muscles flexible, strong, and healthy, and we need that flexibility to maintain a range of motion in the joints. Without it, the muscles shorten and become tight. That puts you at risk for joint pain, strains, and muscle damage. Stretching just makes you feel good!

3-  It’s non-competitive

When you practice yoga, it’s just you and your mat. There is no one else to impress or compare to. At least that is how it’s supposed to be. I encourage my students to listen to their body and not to compare themselves with anyone. Only you can know what’s good for your body and if you press further than that you won’t be productive.

4-  Can be done almost anywhere

Just roll out your mat and do your thing. You can practice yoga at home, in a studio, out in nature, on the beach, or in the airport waiting area. (My husband has been known to find a corner at the airport between flights where he can do a few poses to relieve sciatic pain between flights).

5-  Increases body tone and endurance

Yoga is a great way to tone your body and increase endurance. Most people are very surprised when they first practice yoga how much strength and endurance it does take. What a great way to build muscle. Depending on what type of yoga you are doing, yoga can even give you a great cardiovascular workout as well.

6-  Improves mood

Yoga is a natural way to increase serotonin and other mood enhancing hormones. The production and serotonin is believed to play a major role in happiness. I think we all could use a little more happiness. The breathing that you do in yoga is also beneficial for improving your mood. I don’t think there has ever been a time when I felt worse after practicing yoga.

7-  Can be adapted to fit almost any physical condition

This is what I love about adaptive yoga. It doesn’t really matter what you are experiencing in your body, there is usually a way to adapt a pose to make it suitable for you. Even if you are in a wheelchair, you can move and exercise those parts of your body that do move. If you have limitations, a chair can be used.

8-  Can be done at any age

I teach a weekly chair yoga class at the senior center in my community, and it’s amazing what those folks can do with the assistance of a chair. My oldest student is a 100 year old woman. What an inspiration she is to me.


Even children can benefit from yoga. Kids love yoga. So if you feel tied down because you have children at your feet all day, have them join you on the mat!

Find a yoga class that works for you

I encourage you to find a yoga class that suits you and get started! If you haven’t ever done yoga, find a beginners class. Keep in mind that there are a lot of types of yoga out there. Don’t get discouraged if the class you take isn’t your cup of tea. Keep looking until you find one that suits you.  Some like a more vigorous intense practice, and some enjoy a more restorative class. Mix it up and explore.

I also recommend trying different styles and teachers. Some will resonate with you and some won’t.

Some yoga resources

YOUTUBE Channel – Gentle Yoga with Jan

One of my passions is to share yoga and make it available to everyone, especially to those with limitations. I recently started a Youtube channel that focuses on a more gentle type of yoga. There are a few videos up and running right now.  These first videos focus on proper alignment and benefits of specific poses.

I will also be listing classes and tutorials for those of you who need a little more assistance using a chair.

So excited to get this up and running. I hope you will join me.

Adaptive Yoga with a Chair – DVD & Book

This is a DVD and Book that I have available on Amazon.


In the Adaptive Yoga book and DVD I teach you a modified sun salutation. One version of the salutations is totally done in the chair and the other version is a standing salutation using the assistance of a chair. What I love about the book, is that you can hang it from the chair so you can follow the illustrated steps and exercises.

So whether you have a healthy, toned body, or you have a few health issues, you CAN adapt yoga to fit YOU!

You may be interested in these posts:




I’m excited to connect with some of you on the yoga mat. I hope you’ll join me!

Please send me a note if you have any questions or comments!






Picture of Jan Howell

Jan Howell

Whether it’s a new recipe, a fun craft, or some handy tips for your garden and home, I hope to empower and inspire you with skills that you can use to create joy, improved health, and to do it in a simple way.

Read More

Office Yoga: 10 Poses to Prevent Stiffness & Fatigue While at Work

office yoga overhead stretch

Are you stuck at a desk or chair for long periods of time during the day? I’m going to show you some office yoga that you can do to prevent stiffness and improve your overall health.

If you are a visual learner and would enjoy a video tutorial, I have filmed the process and offer it for FREE on my youtube station.

Play Video

Moving your body throughout the day is VITAL for your health.

If you work in one position all day long, whether sitting, standing, or otherwise, it’s important to understand how gravity is negatively affecting your health when you are sedentary. You’ve all heard the phrase, “Sitting is the New Smoking,” well there is a lot to be said about that.

Statistics show the negative effects of a sedentary lifestyle.

  • obesity
  • increased blood pressure
  • high blood sugar
  • excess body fat around the waist
  • abnormal cholesterol
  • metabolic syndrome
  • cardiovascular disease and cancer

There are a few good references I want to refer you to regarding MOVEMENT.

Joan Vernikos. Here is a good youtube watch when you have some time. VERY INFORMATIVE!





I know, it can be so easy to get wrapped up in your work. Before long, time has gone by (1-2 hours) and you are still sitting at your desk. This is NOT GOOD FOR YOUR HEALTH AND WELBEING! However, there are some things you can do to help break up those sitting spells.

SIMPLY GET YOUR BUTT OUT OF THE CHAIR and do a little office yoga.


Here are 10 office yoga poses that you can easily do at the office/ or at home to keep you moving and feeling great.

1-   Overhead Reach & Stretch

  • Simply inhale and bring both hands out to the side and over your head.
  • Exhale, let your hands drop back down to your side.
  • Repeat 3-4 times

BENEFITS: Stretches the arms and shoulders. Leaves you feeling energized and grounded.

Extending your arms out to the side and over your head does more than stretch your body.

What do winning athletes do when they experience the thrill of victory? They throw their arms in the air in a “V” shape and raise their chins. Even people who are blind from birth instinctively use this posture when they win. Amy Cuddy, a social psychologist at Harvard, has studied the effects of posture on the mind.


It’s almost impossible to not to feel an improvement in mood by taking your hands over your head. It really does make you feel good. TRY IT!

2-      Tabletop/ Modified Downdog

  • Stand up and place hands of table or desk in front of you
  • Step back and bend knees a lot
  • Pull your hips back so your arms are straight and legs bent!

BENEFITS: Stretches your back, legs and neck. Opens your chest, massages abdominal muscles and increases circulation to head and makes you feel soooo good!

3-      Modified Plank Pose

  • From downdog, lower hips down and forward to a plank position.
  • Keep back straight or lower hips lower to create an arch in the back. (optional)
  • Move back into downdog.
  • Repeat as many times as you like.

BENEFITS: Stretches calf muscles, ankles and back

4-      Seated Forward Bend

  • From a seated position, fold forward sliding hands down the legs to the floor.
  • If you can’t reach the floor, hold onto your legs.
  • Drop your head completely
  • Take a few breaths there.
  • Inhale and roll back up to a seated position.
  • Repeat

BENEFITS: Massages pelvic organs, calms the nervous system, and increases blood flow to the brain, sinuses and face. Stretches the spine.

5-      Heel Lifts

  • In a seated position with both feet flat on the floor, simply lift heels off the floor.
  • Repeat 5-10 times.

BENEFITS: Creates circulation to feet and legs.


6-      Foot flex & leg lifts

  • In a seated position, slide one foot on the floor out in front of you.
  • Flex that foot and lift leg up off the floor to hip height.
  • Lower foot back to down to the floor and then slide foot back towards you.
  • Repeat on the other leg.
  • Do 3-4 reps on each leg.

BENEFITS: Stretches calf and ankles. Activates and tones the quads.

7-      Seated side stretch

  • While sitting in the chair, INHALE and reach left arm out to the side and then overhead.
  • Continue reaching to the right until you achieve a wanted stretch on the side of your body.
  • Stay there for a few breaths and then when EXHALING, release the arm back down to your side.
  • Repeat on the other side.
  • Do several reps on each side

BENEFITS: Stretches the side body, arms and shoulder

8-      Neck release (hand shake myofascial release)

This is an AWESOME office yoga exercise to release the fascial tissue in the arm, neck and shoulder; which affects the range of motion in your neck and upper torso.

  • Without moving your body, turn your head to the left and notice your range of motion.
  • Take the left fingers with your right hand and SHAKE the fingers with your right hand vigorously for about 10-20 seconds!
  • Pull and shake the left thumb now. (Yep, I know you are thinking this is weird stuff) Just wait!!!
  • Now take your right hand up to your LEFT EAR and start rubbing the front of the rim of your ear. (Rub vigorously between fingers.
  • Continue rubbing around the whole rim of your ear ending with the earlobe.
  • Now take that earlobe and give it a good shake, pulling it away from your head. (STAY WITH ME)
  • Relax your hands in your lap and look to the LEFT again to check your range of motion.

Ta-dah! It’s like magic!!!!

Did you notice a difference?

Yep, crazy I know, but it WORKS!!!!

BENEFITS: Releases neck tension and improves neck mobility

9-      Knee curls & twist

  • While sitting in a chair, bring your RIGHT knee towards your chest and your forehead towards your knee. EXHALE.
  • Lower knee but keep a hold of the knee with the LEFT arm.
  • Take your right arm and open it out to the side and reach back behind you.
  • This will create a nice twist and stretch.
  • Repeat on the other side.

BENEFITS: Stretches spine. Stimulates internal organs in the mid-body.

10-   Stand and sit/ butt lifts

  • Start in a seated position, and then simply STAND UP AND SIT BACK DOWN.
  • Repeat 5-10 times.

If you can’t stand up because you are in a meeting, in a car or don’t have the mobility, NO WORRIES!

You can still fire up those same muscles by doing it this way.

  • Press your feet into the floor and act as if you are going to stand up, but don’t.
  • Do 5-10 reps.

By doing this, you should feel your glutes, hamstrings, calves and quads fire up as if you were really standing up.

Can you feel it?

This is another exercise that is great to do in the car or airplane when you have to sit for long periods of time and can’t get up.

You’ll be surprised how much energy it really takes to pretend to stand up. LOL.

BENEFITS: Activates muscles in the legs & glutes. Great for circulation.

There you have it!

No excuses for not moving your body while at work. Do some office yoga!


Keep Moving & Smiling!





Join me for other yoga videos and tutorials on my YouTube station.

You may also be interested in these previous Yoga posts.




Picture of Jan Howell

Jan Howell

Whether it’s a new recipe, a fun craft, or some handy tips for your garden and home, I hope to empower and inspire you with skills that you can use to create joy, improved health, and to do it in a simple way.

Read More