Exercise is extremely important for seniors who want to maintain their independence and quality of life. Unfortunately, not all workouts are possible as you get older. However, there’s senior yoga.
Senior yoga, also known as chair yoga, is a form of exercise created specifically for people with pre-existing health conditions or elderly people prevented from doing regular yoga. This practice provides all the benefits of regular yoga with a lower risk of injury and less strain on bones and joints.
But it’s not as simple as sitting on a chair and doing yoga — there’s more to it. And, if you want to be prepared for all it has to bring, as well as learn all about its benefits, you should read on.
Benefits of Senior Yoga
Yoga is an amazing practice for your health in general. However, it can be a bit difficult for older people as it requires flexibility, and it can put a bit of a strain on the joints and bones, depending on the asana.
That’s why senior or chair yoga exists — it’s a perfect starter exercise that can give you mobility, a fuller range of motion, and balance, perhaps even an intro into regular forms of yoga. With that in mind, you are probably wondering what kind of benefits it can give you.
Here are some:
- You’ll be more flexible. This is one of the most important points for seniors. As you age, your flexibility decreases, and it can be hard to reach down to put on your shoes, reach up to grab something, etc. Chair yoga can help you find that youthful flexibility again.
- You’ll be stronger. While yoga is not a strength exercise, it will make your body better prepared for injury, so you won’t have to take as long to heal. It will also help your body stay strong and independent.
- You’ll be under less stress. Stress is a normal part of everyone’s life in this day and age. But it’s not healthy. However, yoga is there to improve your stress response and decrease your stress levels. Your mental health will improve, including memory and cognitive function too.
- You’ll have better coordination. When you get older, your coordination suffers, and this causes plenty of injuries. However, yoga can help you gain control over your body and your mind to enable you swift, accurate movement and a decreased risk of injury.
As a bonus, if you join a class, you’ll be able to get the benefit of socializing with other people, and that’s another important thing to do as you age. It can make you less anxious and more comfortable in your own skin.
Plus, if you have any pre-existing chronic conditions, you may be able to alleviate them through chair yoga. If your plan is to move into other forms of exercise once you get stronger, senior yoga could be a perfect starter.
Should You Do Chair Yoga as a Senior?
Senior yoga or chair yoga is a form of yoga that was specifically created to suit the elderly and those with conditions preventing regular exercise. And while this form of yoga is modified, it involves all the movements that you get with traditional yoga.
The movements improve your flexibility. Fortunately, almost all asanas can be done with the help of a chair. Another great thing is that you get the breathing benefits of yoga too. Breathing is important for reducing anxiety and increasing your mindfulness.
It’s ideal for anyone that has chronic pain or any other conditions preventing a full range of motion or causing pain. Chair in the senior yoga provides support so you can’t fall or injure yourself.
Anyone can do chair yoga with ease, and it can even help you prevent aging and reduce some of the symptoms of getting older. As such, your regular tasks would become a lot easier.
4 Asanas to Get You Started
Sit in a chair and straighten your back. Your core should be engaged. Then, bend over at the waist and over your knees, with your head hanging down. Your arms will likely reach the floor, so press them down. While you bend over, exhale.
As you push back up, inhale and raise your arms when you sit back up. Repeat this movement several times and remember to breathe properly.
Cat-cow asana is one of the most popular asanas for what it does to your back and neck. To perform it, sit in a chair and elongate your spine. Take a deep breath, put your hands on your legs, and exhale as you arch your back, pushing your shoulders forward. This creates a hump, so try to make that hump as big as possible before inhaling and opening up your chest, pushing the shoulders back.
The hump part represents the cat, while the other part represents a cow. Repeat for several breaths and enjoy the benefits it gives to your posture.
Chair Warrior I
Warrior is an excellent exercise for your entire body, but the chair warrior is just as great. To do it, get a chair and place your right thigh over the seat of the chair, with your foot reaching the floor. If it doesn’t, it’s also okay.
The other leg should be stretched back, with your left sole parallel to the chair. Your back should be elongated, you should be facing forward — your hips too — and your arms should be raised up.
Inhale and exhale as you keep this stance and then switch to the other leg.
Extended Side Angle
Sit in a chair and perform a forward bend. As you do this, place the fingertips of your right hand next to your left foot. Rotate to the left and straighten your back while keeping your chest open. Look up and keep your other arm up as well.
Hold this position for several breaths and then switch to the other side. If you need some extra help, put a block on the floor, next to your foot, and place your fingertips there instead of the floor. Remember to breathe.
How Often Should You Do Senior Yoga?
Yoga is a practice recommended as a daily activity. For example, every morning, when you wake up, you should do yoga for 10 minutes. It’s not a lot, but it prepares you for the day.
However, if you have a condition that prevents you from doing it daily or if you simply feel like you need more rest, you should modify your schedule to do it every other day. In that case, you should take a full hour session instead of keeping it short. This will help you get the most out of your exercise.
Keep in mind that yoga is not competitive and that the main point is to practice it — not learn it and win. It only works if you are consistent and if you do it right. Engage your entire body and mind when practicing chair yoga, and you’ll get a full set of benefits that this form of yoga can provide.
Chair or senior yoga is a form of yoga perfect for the elderly. As a senior who wants to boost their quality of life, meet some new friends, and regain that youthful strength, this is a good solution.
Before getting started, visit your doctor and see what they think. They should be able to give you some tips. To add more benefits, take a few minutes before or after each session to meditate, eat healthy food, and drink plenty of water. All of this can help you reverse some of the symptoms of aging and keep you happy and healthy for years to come.
- Healthline: 7 Yoga Poses You Can Do in a Chair
- NCBI: The Effect of Chair Yoga on Biopsychosocial Changes in English- and Spanish-Speaking Community-Dwelling Older Adults With Lower-Extremity Osteoarthritis
- NCBI: Safety and feasibility of modified chair-yoga on functional outcome among elderly at risk for falls
- PubMed: A Pilot Study of the Effects of Chair Yoga and Chair-Based Exercise on Biopsychosocial Outcomes in Older Adults With Lower Extremity Osteoarthritis
- PubMed: The Effect of Chair Yoga in Older Adults With Moderate and Severe Alzheimer’s Disease
- NCBI: Adapted yoga to improve physical function and health-related quality of life in physically-inactive older adults: a randomized controlled pilot trial
- NCBI: Fifteen Minutes of Chair-Based Yoga Postures or Guided Meditation Performed in the Office Can Elicit a Relaxation Response