chair yoga

Rock Advent Challenge

During the month of December, Nutritious Movement did a Rock Advent countdown.  The following posts were featured on my Instagram feed.  Each day showcases a different movement to get you moving.  Many of the movements include the use of a chair to make the movements more accessible. However, you can do the same movements without a chair if you desire to challenge the body differently.

Day 1 – Classic Rock

Get in and out of a chair holding an object with your shins vertical. Shins vertical engages your glutes instead of it being so thigh focused. 

Day 2 – Rock Overhead

The key to this movement is to keep your ribs down. It is not as easy as you think. Due to shoulder tension we tend to move our ribs outward to give us more range of motion in the shoulders. It is really a false range of motion.

Also notice when you keep your ribs down you may not be able to take your arms behind your ears.

Day 3 – Squat Counterbalance

Some people are not able to get down into a full squat while counterbalancing with holding onto something due knee or hip issues, to list a few reasons. 


You can still practice this movement while holding onto something like a banister as you lower yourself down. Don’t worry if your hips don’t go lower than your knees–that may come weeks or months down the road (or never, which is ok too). No banister in your house, then use a door frame or something else solid that can support your weight.

Day 4 – Walk with Your Rock

I live in WI. Right now walking = battling icy streets and bundling up so you can bare the cold. It is very easy to decide to just not go outside and walk. I force myself to walk outside some days—usually a reward of chia tea helps! If you just can’t bring yourself to go out when it is cold and icy take your walking inside. Walk through your house for no other reason but to move. Or head to the gym to walk on a treadmill. The point is to move and walk.

If your rocks are buried under snow like mine, a snowball works just as well. And it is always a bonus when my little people join me on my daily walks. They can be motivated by chia tea too!

Day 5 – Rock Around the Clock

All of these variations work hand dexterity, hand and shoulder range of motion, and coordination. The version with one knee lifted is great for tapping into the core.

I love using golf balls before my classes start to open up the fascia of the feet. When doing this, be kind to your feet, you can be too aggressive and cause more harm than good.

People who often need to use a chair for yoga or movement, may not pay a lot of attention to their feet. Due to lack of mobility some people may not be able to touch their feet, so rolling a golf ball provides a way for their feet to get some much needed attention. 

Day 6 – Rock N’ Sole

Grab a golf ball and roll it under the bottom of your foot. Your soles will thank you.

Day 7 – Pelvic List on a Rock

In my chair yoga classes we work a lot on balance. The pelvic list is one of the many ways we work balance.

To do the pelvic list stand tall. If you need support use a chair or a banister to assist you. Press one foot down into the floor which creates a lift in the opposite foot. Allow that foot to hover above the floor without having the knee bent to do it. Also make sure you don’t hike up your hip to create the lift.

I often tell people in my classes that they can practice this when they pass their staircase by letting one foot hang off a step as I am going in this variation.

Day 8 – Rock and Roll


Not everyone can easily get down on the floor so I transferred this movement to sitting in a chair. The chair does limit your ability to roll back and up but it still gives you a chance to move your spine and strengthen the core.

For more challenge hold your rock further away from your torso.

Day 9 – Rolling Stone

Sitting in a chair move your rock or in my case different size balls (even a weighed one) with your arms and legs. Each size and weight you use will provide a new experience for the body.

Day 10 – Jumping Over Your Rock

When was the last time you jumped? And not because you were scared.

We don’t practice the art of jumping too much as we get older. The reasons are endless on why but here are a few: hurts my knees, hurts my back, causes me to pee a little, weak ankles.

If jumping is not for you right now you can still join me in this challenge. Hold onto a chair for support if you need it and step your foot up and over your rock. Or you can do this same foot action seated.

Day 11 – Rock Solid is

Falls are one of the main reasons for fractures when we get older. Exercise (aka movement) is the best way to prevent falls. Movement keeps our joints and muscles supple so that when we are faced with tricky surfaces our body can adapt. Balancing exercise also help with our proprioception which decreases with age. Find a line, beam, or something to walk across while holding your rock.

Day 12 – Squat on your Rock

Squatting is not easy for most people. So where do you start? The first step is to think through how a squat starts and NOT what it looks like at the end.

A squat starts with the knees bending. You can hold onto something and start bending your knees as your hips lower. You can also sit on your chair and bring one knee toward your chest which is similar to the end version of a squat.

Day 13 – Between a Rock & a Hard Place

Can you get up and down from a chair holding your rock? Try it with the rock near your torso, then the rock in one arm, and then the rock straight out in front of you. Each way you carry the rock will require the body to work differently. What other ways could you hold the rock and get up and down?


Day 14 – One Legged Squat

Place any size object and weight on the floor. Do a one-legged squat to pick up the object. Use a chair if you need it for balance while doing

Day 15 – Throw Your Rock

Sometimes I totally change up my chair yoga classes with a little fun. Balls not only provide a new way to do range of motion but you can also use them for hand eye coordination like we are doing with this challenge. If your participants don’t caught the ball, that is great too because they then need to stoop down to get it.

Day 16 -Rock out
There is just something about dance that makes people come alive. If you do a google search you will find nursing homes and care givers that use music in very magical ways for people. (Those stories always make me cry.) I use dance in my class from time to time and people love it.

Grab a partner or maybe just by yourself and dance with your rock.

Day 17 – Its Time to Rock Your Baby
There are many ways to use blocks in chair yoga classes. One thing I like to do is to place a block between people’s thighs. This is a great tool for people who tend to have their knees move inward when they get in and out of a chair.

Day 18 – Loaded Side to Side
A full squat may not be part of your body movement program right now and that is ok. You can still join this challenge by sitting in a chair and reaching your rock down to the floor. Try this with the legs opened at various distances as well.

Day 19 -Rock of Ages

In my chair classes, I teach a lot on balance and I present challenges to balance–like what you see in this image (stepping on and off a block or stepping from one block to another.) This challenge seems as though it would be unsafe for some people to do. And yes, that may be true. If someone really struggles with balance, I let them hold onto a chair or wall.

I used to teach balance and fall prevention workshops in conjunction with aging services. The number one aspect of these programs was to keep people moving and to get people moving. When someone stops moving or decreases how much they used to move, this is where you see a huge increase in falls.

Day 20 – Put Your Rock On.

Reaching overhead for some people is not easy due to shoulder issues. If that is you, simply modify by reducing the load (weight) that you are lifting upward or reduce the height of your lift. Yoga blocks work great to lift overhead.

While there are more days to Advent, my life was in full Christmas mode and I was not able to participate in the final days.  I hope the 20 challenges above have given you new ideas of how to move your body.