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

A foot or ankle injury can cause havoc in your life. Just about everything becomes harder to accomplish, and your yoga practice may seem altogether impossible.

But with the help of a chair, you can still enjoy a yoga session while keeping your injured foot or ankle safe.

When most people hear “Chair Yoga,” they equate that to yoga for seniors. But anyone can benefit from Chair Yoga poses, particularly if you have an injury and need a little support.

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Here’s How to Keep Your Foot or Ankle Injury Safe in Chair Yoga Poses

Before you dive into these poses, there are a few differences to highlight to keep your injured area safe.

Traditionally in standing and balancing postures we ground down firmly into our feet to help find stability. That action could flare up a foot or ankle injury or might even be cumbersome if you are in a boot or cast.

To compensate for this, you’ll want to activate your muscles a little differently.  

    Instead of pressing down into the ground, activate your muscles in and up. Think of pulling your leg muscles in toward your bones, and then up toward your core.

Doing this will keep your muscles working, but your injured area a bit safer. You can also slide a pillow under your foot for a little extra comfort and support.

Of course, though, if you are in active recovery from a serious injury, it’s always best to consult with your doctor before trying this, or any other yoga sequence.

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Try These 7 Chair Yoga Poses to Help Compensate for Your Foot or Ankle Injury:

For this sequence you’ll need two chairs of equal height, a yoga block, and one pillow.  

1. Warrior 2 (Virabhadrasana 2)

warrior2

Warrior 2 is both a strengthening and stretching pose. This variation decreases pressure on your hips, knees, ankles, and feet, making it a great option for yoga with your injury.

Let’s try it:

  • Sit sideways on your chair with your right thigh and butt cheek on the chair but your left leg and cheek just off the edge of the chair
  • Sit up tall, activate your core muscles for support, and stack your shoulders over your hips
  • Align your right foot under your right knee
  • Walk your left leg open toward the front of the chair, or all the way open to the left side of the chair
  • Leave your left leg bent to keep strain off of your foot, or extend your leg open straight if your injury allows for this range of motion
  • Gently pull your left hip toward your left foot to open your hips slightly
  • Realign your shoulders over your hips
  • Extend your arms out to the side, parallel to the ground with your palms facing down
  • Relax any tension in your shoulders or neck
  • Gaze straight forward toward your extended right hand
  • Hold for up to 10 breaths
  • Walk your left foot back in toward your right, and then turn to face the other direction to practice on the left side

2. Side Angle Pose (Utthita Parsvakonasana)

side angle

Building on Warrior 2, this Chair Yoga pose stretches your groin, spine, waist, and shoulders while challenging your core and accommodating for your foot or ankle injury.

Let’s try it:

  • Grab your block and have it easily available before getting into this pose
  • Set your legs up as above in Warrior 2
  • Grab your block and hold it on its long width between the palms of your hands
  • Extend your arms overhead
  • Lengthen your spine up toward your hands, and then with control, lean over toward your bent right leg
  • Rotate your left ribs up toward the ceiling to keep your chest from collapsing
  • Firm your shoulder blades into your back and release tension in your head and neck
  • Keep reaching long on the diagonal rather than down toward your leg to help keep pressure off your foot and ankle
  • Gaze straight ahead or overhead toward the block
  • Hold for up to 10 breaths
  • Bring your spine back to center, release your arms, and walk your left foot back in before turning to practice on the other side

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3. Goddess Pose (Utkata Konasana) With Lateral Leans

goddess

Goddess Pose provides a great hip stretch and killer quad work. Adding lateral leans creates a surprisingly active core for a Chair Yoga pose.

Let’s try it:

  • Sit perched toward the middle or front edge of your chair with both legs together in front of you
  • Lengthen your spine and activate your core for stability
  • Move each leg open to the side of the chair – you can use your hands to help if you want
  • Externally rotate your legs at your hip sockets to keep your knees from knocking in
  • Extend your arms out wide, parallel to the ground
  • On your next exhale, lean to the right, bringing your right hand toward the ground behind your leg
  • Look up toward your extended left hand
  • Inhale and return to center
  • Exhale and lean to the left, and look up toward your right hand
  • Repeat for several breath cycles until your core feels the fire

4. 5-Point Star (Utthita Tadasana)

star

Use a chair for 5-Point Star to work on your balance and core strength. This variation is bound to make you forget your troubles while making you laugh and smile (even with your foot or ankle injury!).

Let’s try it:

  • Find a seat in the middle of your chair with both legs facing forward
  • Lean back slightly, but keep your back off the chair
  • Extend your arms long past the front corners of the chair
  • Lengthen through your spine all the way up to the crown of your head
  • Lift up slightly through your chest and rib cage
  • Separate your knees, and extend your legs long and wide in front of you, hovering your feet off the floor
  • Flex or point your feet if your injury allows for this range of motion
  • Relax your shoulders and resist squeezing your shoulder blades closely together
  • Smile and enjoy feeling like a kid again, playing on your chair
  • Hold for up to 10 breaths or until you stop giggling

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5. Chair Backbend

backbend

A Chair Yoga pose backbend allows for a more passive approach that is easy on the legs and feet, yet still provides all the benefits of a chest and heart opener.

Let’s try it:

  • Start by sitting on the edge of your chair with your feet on the ground in front of you
  • Your legs can be together or hip-width apart
  • Grab the sides of your chair with your hands
  • Walk your hands back along the chair side, starting to gently open your chest
  • Inhale and lengthen through your whole spine, then open your chest forward while rolling your shoulders back
  • Allow your chin to lift so your head falls back, but resist crunching at the nape of your neck
  • Gaze overhead at the ceiling above you
  • Take up to 10 deep breaths here
  • Use your core to safely come out of the backbend and realign your spine
  • Sit straight up in the chair for a few breaths before moving on

6. Pigeon Pose (Eka Pada Rajakapotasana)

pigeon

Traditional Pigeon Pose, and even Figure-4 in a chair, can put a lot of strain on your foot or ankle injury. So try this variation to relieve tension in these areas but still get the hip stretch you crave.

Let’s try it:

  • Perch on the edge of your chair
  • Pull a second chair up close to you with the seat facing you, slightly stagger this chair to the right
  • Place a pillow on the chair for extra support for your foot
  • Lift your right knee up toward your shoulder
  • Use your hands to help externally rotate your leg in your hip socket
  • Place your leg on the pillow, allowing the chair to support as much of your leg as possible
  • Your knee will be a bit further open to the right than in a traditional Pigeon or Figure-4 Pose
  • Allow the chair to support your leg and let your knee fall open to the side
  • If this is too deep of an opening for your hip, add a block under the pillow to lift your knee
  • To deepen the stretch, lean forward and reach for the back of the second chair
  • Hold for up to one minute, then lift your chest, use your hands to lift your right leg and return it to a neutral position
  • Slide the chair to stagger it to the left, and repeat on the left side

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7. Legs Up the Wall (Viparita Karani)

legs up wall

End your practice with this restorative variation of Legs Up the Wall to soothe and relax your foot or ankle injury.

Let’s try it:

  • Place a pillow or blanket on the chair for padding if desired
  • Sit on the floor with either shoulder next to the chair seat
  • Rotate so you can lay down on your back
  • Prop your legs up on the chair so your calves and heels are resting on the chair seat
  • Adjust however necessary to find comfort in the pose
  • Some yogis like to add a blanket or pillow under their head
  • Stay here for up to three minutes
  • To come out of the pose, move your legs to either side, place your feet on the floor, roll to your side, and take a few breaths
  • Use your hands to help make your way back up to a seat
  • Take a few breaths in an easy seat before finishing your practice

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Maintain Your Practice With a Foot or Ankle Injury by Using These Chair Yoga Poses

Don’t let a foot or ankle injury keep you from your yoga practice!

Try these Chair Yoga poses to keep you active without putting too much strain on your foot.

All included information is not intended to treat or diagnose. The views expressed are those of the author and should be attributed solely to the author. For medical questions, please consult your healthcare provider.