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Missing Your Sun Salutations With a Foot or Ankle Injury? Practice This Chair Sun Salutation Flow

Sun Salutations (Surya Namaskar) seem futile if you have a foot or ankle injury. Enter: Chair Sun Salutations!

Traditional Sun Salutations with a Standing Forward Fold (Uttanasana), step back or jump back to Chaturanga, and rolling over the toes to Upward Facing Dog (Urdhva Mukha Svanasana), can irritate or further damage a foot or ankle injury.

Learn the Difference Between Sun Salutation A + Sun Salutation B (Yoga Photo Tutorial)

So be kind to your body while it’s healing! Skip the traditional Sun Salutations and try chair Sun Salutations instead to reap many of the same benefits for your practice and day.

For these Chair Sun Salutations, you’ll need an upright chair and possibly two yoga blocks. As with any exercise when seriously injured, be sure to check with your doctor before starting.

Using a chair will take most of the load and pressure off your feet, but that doesn’t mean the practice has to be easy or less beneficial.


Practice Chair Sun Salutations With This Step-by-Step Guide:

Start by sitting or perching on the edge of your chair. Activate your core to eliminate any sway in your back that you might normally have from slouching or resting in a chair.

Traditionally in yoga, you find balance by pressing your feet firmly into the floor. As you move through this sequence, pull your muscles in and up toward your bones instead. This small change will keep your muscles working, while being kinder to your injured area.

Follow this sequence for your chair Sun Salutations:

1. Seated Mountain Pose (Tadasana)

Step one of all Sun Salutations is Mountain Pose and your seated chair Sun Salutations are no exception.

Let’s try it:

  • Sit in your chair and place your feet on the floor
  • Your feet and knees can be touching or spaced hip-width apart for more stability
  • Let your hands rest on your legs wherever comfortable
  • Inhale to gently pull your belly in and lengthen through your side, waist, and back
  • Exhale to release any tension in your shoulders, neck, and jaw
  • Keep your head neutral and find a spot to gaze at straight ahead


2. Seated Extended Mountain Pose (Urdhva Hasta Tadasana)

extended mountain
Next up, find length in your spine as you reach your arms overhead.

Let’s try it:

  • Inhale and reach your arms up overhead
  • Extend your arms from your shoulders all the way through your fingers
  • Turn your palms to face each other and spread your fingers wide
  • Keep your elbows and hands spaced shoulder-width apart or wider if necessary
  • Release tension in your neck and shoulders to eliminate “shrugging”
  • Keep your front body core engaged to eliminate any swaying in your back
  • Lift through your ribs to find length in your spine
  • Lift your chin slightly and gaze overhead


3. Seated Forward Fold (Uttanasana)

forward fold
In chair Sun Salutations, you don’t have to miss out on any of your favorite stretches. You can still fold forward even from your seat!

Let’s try it:

  • Exhale and fold forward over your legs
  • Keep length in your spine as long as you can, and then allow your back to round over your knees as you drop your head and shoulders toward the floor
  • Bring your hands to the ground in line with your toes or use blocks under your palms if needed
  • Separate your knees to make room for your chest as needed
  • Gaze down toward the ground underneath your chair


4. Half Lift (Ardha Uttanasana)

half lift
Next up, find length in your spine again.

Let’s try it:

  • Inhale and lift your head and shoulders, finding a flat back
  • Lift up as high as you need to find a straight spine
  • Lengthen from your tailbone through the crown of your head
  • Engage your front and back body core to support your back and reduce any backbending
  • Your hands may stay planted on the floor or blocks, or come up to your fingertips for a little extra room
  • Gaze at the ground underneath your feet



5. Seated Forward Fold (Uttanasana)

forward fold
As you start to become familiar with your chair Sun Salutations, you can flow through the steps effortlessly with breath.

Let’s try it:

  • Exhale and repeat the fold from step three above


6. Seated Extended Mountain Pose (Urdhva Hasta Tadasana)

extended mountain
Continue flowing through your rhythm.

Let’s try it:

  • Inhale as you sit up and reach the arms overhead as in step two above


7. Seated Mountain Pose (Hasta Tadasana)


Come back to where you started.

Let’s try it:

  • Exhale and return your hands to your thighs as in step one above


8. Seated Hand-to-Big Toe Pose (Utthita Hasta Padangustasana)

Hand to Knee Left
Add on to your chair Sun Salutations sequence with a bit of balance work.

Let’s try it:

  • Reach for your right leg, grabbing it with both hands just under your knee
  • On your inhale, lift your right knee up bringing it as close as you can to your chest
  • Press both sitting bones down into your chair for balance
  • If you lifted your shoulders as your raised your knee, return them to a neutral position
  • Engage your core to keep your spine erect and prevent backbending
  • Exhale and return your right foot to the ground
  • Keep your head neutral and find a spot to gaze at straight ahead
  • Repeat on the other side
  • Hand to Knee Right


9. Seated Cat/Cow (Marjaryasana/Bitilasana)

Flow with your breath through a seated Cat/Cow sequence.

Let’s try it:

  • Move your hands to grab the sides of your chair for support
  • Inhale and slide your hands back as you lift and open your chest
  • Allow your shoulders to roll back
  • Lift your chin so your head falls back, but resist crunching at the nape of your neck
  • Gaze overhead at the ceiling above
  • Release your hands from the chair and bring them to rest on your thighs
  • Exhale and slide your hands forward as you round your back
  • Pull your belly button toward your spine
  • Round through your shoulders and tuck your chin toward your chest
  • Gaze toward your belly button or at the tip of your nose
  • Flow repeatedly between the two shapes for a few deep breaths


10. Repeat

Repeat this sequence three to five times and you’ll find a nice flow paring breath and movement – all while keeping your injury protected.

Practice Chair Sun Salutations to Protect Your Injury and Benefit Your Body

Sun Salutations provide a wealth of benefits, and these chair Sun Salutations do as well. Start your day with this flow and you’ll likely find more focus, boost muscle tone and flexibility, decrease stress and anxiety, increase your energy, and help to stabilize your mood.

This sequence is also great to practice on break while at work, even if you don’t have an injury. You can discreetly do this from your office chair or lunch table anytime you need a few moments of Zen to destress and stay focused.

There’s nothing quite like the feeling you get while practicing Sun Salutations, so don’t let your foot or ankle injury get in the way of your daily dose of saluting the sun. Practice this chair Sun Salutations flow and gain all the benefits of traditional Sun Salutations while keeping your injury safe and stress free.

Foot or Ankle Injury? These 7 Chair Yoga Poses Are Just for You

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wonderful comments!

Tonya Wetzel

Tonya is a 200hr RYT based in Coastal Mississippi. She loves that she gets to share the joy and healing that yoga brought to her life. In addition to teaching yoga, she flips houses with her husband. Tonya is a travel enthusiast who loves the outdoors and adventure. You'll find her at the local beach, volunteering at the animal shelter, and playing with her forever and foster dogs.

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