What images do you get when someone starts talking about yoga? Do you think of incredibly flexible fitness fanatics bending their bodies into pretzels? Despite some advanced poses being mind-bending twisty, you don’t have to be an aspiring contortionist to enjoy this form of exercise. You can do yoga if you have limited mobility, balance issues, or stubborn stiffness. It’s possible to enjoy the many benefits of chair yoga without ever leaving your seat!
Chair yoga has gained many new fans, a modified version of hatha yoga for individuals with health issues and the elderly. Chair yoga refers to modifications of yoga postures while seated in a chair. These adaptations make yoga attainable for people who cannot stand, who lack the mobility to switch positions quickly from standing to sitting. Although the individual postures are pretty different, the primary body mechanics stay the same. Students can do twists, hip stretches, forward bends, and mild backbends sitting on chairs.
Is Chair Yoga Good for Seniors?
Like Pilates, yoga is one of the exercises that can wake up the body and brain. Practicing yoga is an excellent way for older adults to loosen and stretch painful muscles, reduce stress, and improve circulation. A simple way to get the incredible health benefits of yoga for older adults is by practicing chair yoga. It is also beneficial for chronic pain management and symptom management for such health problems as arthritis, depression, coronary artery disease, diabetes, and various autoimmune conditions. You can learn about Pilates vs. yoga for seniors to choose the proper exercise for you.
Health Benefits of Chair Yoga
Chair yoga has many benefits, including reducing stress, pain, and fatigue. It can also help with joint lubrication, balance, and age-related issues such as menopause and arthritis. According to studies, yoga helps seniors lose weight. Other health benefits of chair yoga include:
- Getting more flexible
- Pain management
- Improved muscle tone
- Better breathing habits
- Stress reduction
- Better sleep through helping seniors with a sleep disorder
- An improved sense of well-being
- Weight loss and healthier BMI range for seniors
Chair Yoga Poses for Seniors and Beginners
Anybody who likes to do chair yoga, like seniors or those at the office, will benefit from this sequence. Keep in mind that you want a sturdy chair that feels secure and comfortable. This secure means no wheels or chairs that feel rickety. Here are some basic chair yoga poses to get you going.
Seated Mountain (Tadasana)
Seated Tadasana will relax your body and mind. Seated Tadasana is a calming pose that enhances the sense of breath, making it ideal for meditation. After each of the following poses, you can come to this pose to re-engage your core, check in on your posture, and focus on your breath.
- Sit up straight, extend your spine, and take a deep breath.
- Exhale as you root into the chair with your sit bones.
- Legs should be at 90-degree angles, knees over ankles. A small amount of room is preferable between your knees, but depending on your skeleton, you may need more.
- Exhale deeply, roll your shoulders down your back, pull your belly button toward your spine, and relax your elbows at your sides.
- Lift your toes, and press firmly into all four corners of your feet.
Stretches such as these help relieve muscle tension and assist in injury recovery. The triceps stretch increases mobility, lengthens muscles, and enhances flexibility.
- Hold your hands together above your head while you breathe deeply through your nose while still seated in the chair.
- Slowly lower your arms, palms facing each other in front of your heart as you exhale.
- Inhale as you raise both arms and exhale as you gently move them together in front of your heart.
- You can now move your arms up and down while spreading your fingers wide apart. Consider what you are experiencing – your breath, your hands.
- Keeping both hands near your chest, take a moment to rest.
Seated Forward Bend
Seated forward fold pose on the chair helps release tensions in the neck, shoulders, lower back, or hips.
- In Seated Mountain, breathe deeply, focusing on extending your spine as you fold over your legs. You can start by placing your hands on your thighs and then use them while you fold for a little extra support or keep them at your sides.
- This pose helps support digestion and passively lengthens your spine while stretching your back muscles. Take five or more even breaths in this pose.
- When you are ready, lift your torso back to an upright position while inhaling.
Stretches for the neck can help you regain your mobility and range of motion. It makes it easy for you to go about your daily activities. Here’s a simple exercise for your neck.
Stop doing this stretch if you experience any pain while doing it.
- Put your right hand over your head. Next, hold onto a small area on the left side of your head.
- Bring your right ear closer to your right shoulder, just a few centimetres away, slowly and gently.
- Breathe naturally, relax your shoulders, and hold them in a comfortable position. Do not force yourself to stretch—only do it if it feels comfortable. Try to feel how it feels for you when you stretch.
- Let’s go on the next exhalation and come back to seated mountain pose.
- Hold onto the right side of your head with your left hand.
- Gently draw your left ear toward your left shoulder.
- Compare how stretchy this side feels compared to the other side.
- Relax in a seated mountain pose on your next exhalation.
Reverse Arm Hold
Reverse arm hold will open your chest and stretch your shoulders, which will help with posture, stress, and breathing difficulties.
- While inhaling, spread your arms apart, palms down.
- Exhale by rolling both shoulders forward a bit so that your palms face behind you, bend your elbows, and swing your arms behind your back.
- Clasp your hands in any way that feels comfortable (fingers, hands, wrists, elbows) and pull your hands apart gently without the need to release the hold.
- Hold the other arm clasped this way for five breaths after taking five slow, even breaths with the arms clasped this way.
- Reverse Arm Hold can help with posture, breathing difficulties, and stress by stretching your shoulders and opening your chest.
Simple Seated Twist
Twisting poses help to reduce lower back pain promote digestion and circulatory health. They’re often called “detox” poses.
Even with your chair back, stay aware that you shouldn’t use it to pull yourself deeper into the twist. Your body will have its stopping point; don’t force it by pulling too hard. Forced twists can cause serious injuries.
- As you breathe in, extend your spine once more and raise your arms up and out to your sides.
- With an exhale, gently twist your upper body to the right. From here, your right hand will rest on the chair back, assisting you in twisting gently, and your left hand will rest by your side.
- Take a look over your right shoulder. Use your grip on the chair to help you maintain the twist but not deepen it.
- Return to the front after five breaths and practice this twist again on your left side.
Chair yoga is one of the best exercises for seniors to ensure their overall well-being. No matter how old you are or how flexible you are, you can choose to have a healthier lifestyle by practicing the exercises that suit you the best.