Chair yoga for seniors is a good and safe exercise for the elderly as it involves light stretching positions while sitting on a chair. It is suitable specifically for seniors with limited mobility. Chair yoga also offers many benefits to one’s mental and physical well-being. Unlike other rigorous exercises, chair yoga gives seniors more time to meditate and relax while maintaining fitness.
Are you new to chair yoga and don’t know where to start? Worry not because in this article, we will share essential information about chair yoga, its benefits, factors, and the best positions for seniors.
What is Chair Yoga for Seniors?
Chair yoga is a version of traditional yoga that uses a chair as a prop or support for the person performing it. It is originally developed by Lakshmi Voulkner in the 1980s, and today, it’s one of the recommended exercises for individuals and seniors with vision, mobility, and other physical impairments that render them incapable of doing traditional yoga.
Chair yoga also offers seniors a lighter and safer approach to yoga, where they can benefit from its meditative and therapeutic nature while keeping them safe from injuries or falls.
What are the Benefits?
Chair yoga is no doubt a recommended type of yoga exercise for seniors and here are the reasons why it is so.
- It reduces stress
- It reduces the risk of anxiety and depression
- It improves flexibility and balance
- It improves blood circulation
- It promotes better mental and physical well being
- It is a safer option for seniors with mobility issues
Things to Keep in Mind Before Doing Chair Yoga
Now that you know what chair yoga is and its benefits to seniors, here is a list of the things you should consider first before performing this type of exercise, especially if you are new to this field.
- Consult an expert before performing chair yoga - Seniors, especially those with problems in mobility should consult his/her doctor first before planning their workout. This is critical because engaging in such activities without proper assessment may put the senior at risk of physical injuries.
- Prioritize safety and comfort - Seniors and their instructors should put safety and comfort the top priority when doing chair yoga. Seniors don’t need to do all the movements as the instructor demonstrates if doing so hurts them. They should start with light movements instead, so that over time, when their muscles are regularly stretched, they will be able to do more yoga movements and positions.
- Customize workout routines based on the range of mobility - This is synonymous with the previous one. Seniors should only opt for movements that they can do without hurting themselves.
Things You Will Need
You should also make sure that you have the necessary things when performing chair yoga.
- An armless and non-wobbling chair - The chair seniors will use should be sturdy and strong so that seniors can use it as a reliable support during chair yoga sessions. Opting for an armless chair will enable seniors to do more yoga movements and positions as well.
- Good-fitting, comfortable clothing - Seniors should opt for clothing that is not too loose or too tight. Remember, it was previously mentioned that one of the top priorities when doing chair yoga is comfort and safety.
- Slip-resistant shoes - These are types of shoes with soles made of rubber with tread patterns that allow a better grip even on wet floors and surfaces.
- Enough workout space - Another thing to ensure that seniors are comfortable during their chair yoga sessions is having enough space for workouts because exercising in cramped spaces will definitely limit seniors’ movements.
- A bottle or tumbler of water - During every exercise session, there should always be a bottle of water with you. You must also make sure that you drink plenty of fluids during breaks to avoid dehydration.
- Towel - It is also essential to bring a clean towel that can be used as extra padding or for wiping sweat.
- A friend, caregiver, or loved one - Having a loved one, friend, or caregiver with you is also beneficial as s/he can be a support or assistant, especially for seniors with limited mobility. Having someone with you can also ensure your safety.
Best Chair Yoga for Seniors
If you still don’t know how to begin your chair yoga journey, below is a list of some of the best chair yoga positions for seniors.
Seated Mountain Pose
This is one of the easiest chair yoga positions that seniors will have no trouble learning.
- First, sit on the edge of the chair.
- Keep the sole of your feet flat on the ground
- Put knees at a 90-degree angle
- Sit straight with your shoulders back and chest up
- Now inhale deeply to stretch your spine and activate your core.
- Next, exhale to relax your body.
- Continue inhaling and exhaling, repeating 10 to 20 sets of breaths
This is the chair yoga alternative to the pigeon pose.
- First, sit up straight.
- Put your right ankle above your left thigh such that your knee is facing outward on the side and your shin is parallel to the chair’s front border.
- Make a forward bend to stretch your legs and back.
- Repeat this step 10 to 20 times.
Seated Forward Bend
This is a good chair yoga position if you have good flexibility or if you want to improve your flexibility.
- First, make a seated mountain pose.
- Inhale deeply as you stretch your spine.
- Exhale as you bend your upper body forward such that your head reaches over your knees.
- Extend your arms and let them rest on the ground or near your ankle.
- Repeat this step 10 to 20 times.
Spinal Twist Pose
This is a good chair yoga exercise for improving stiff muscles in the upper and lower back.
- The first step is to lean back to the edge of the chair. Make sure you have a straight, proper posture.
- Next is to deeply inhale as your stretch your spine.
- Next is to turn your torso to the left as you exhale. Stretch your left arm to the back while doing this.
- Now return to the first position as you inhale.
- Repeat the previous step to your right.
- Repeat the steps 10 times on each side.
- First, sit straight and properly at the edge of the chair. Put your shoulders back, chest up, feet flat on the ground, and knees at a 90-degree angle.
- Put each of your hands on top of your thighs.
- As you inhale, stretch your shoulders back arching your spine.
- Then as you exhale, move your shoulders forward, curving your spine and lowering your chin to your chest.
- Repeat these steps 10 to 20 times.
Chair yoga is a good alternative exercise for seniors as it offers safer and lighter movements. Other than that, chair yoga also promotes better mental and emotional well-being. I hope this article helped you start your journey to fitness through chair yoga exercises.