More than one-third of Americans practising yoga are 50 years or older, according to a study by yoga therapist Carol Krucoff. In actuality, the majority of seniors keep up their yoga practice well into their 60s, 70s, and beyond. Due to age-related problems like hypertension and arthritis, seniors are encouraged to start practicing yoga due to its well-researched health advantages. Yet, it’s crucial to remember that compared to other age groups, yoga practitioners 65 and older experience a higher likelihood of injury.
For this reason, chair yoga is presented to seniors as one of the greatest methods for enjoying yoga’s benefits in a secure and controlled manner. Chair yoga eliminates the need to balance on one foot or get up and down from the floor, yet it still allows you to connect with your body and build your muscles. This article discusses the benefits of chair yoga to seniors and some of the poses most suitable for them.
What is Chair Yoga?
This is a form of yoga in which you can practice yoga poses while sitting or using a chair for balance. It provides the same advantages as traditional yoga, such as increased flexibility, strength, and mental well-being. It is ideal for the elderly and those suffering from particular medical issues.
Benefits of Chair Yoga for Seniors
Increased flexibility and balance
This is important for your health and well-being since it can lower your chance of injury while also allowing you to remain independent, which is key for seniors. It increases lower body flexibility and static balance, lowering the chance of falling and increasing confidence in physical abilities.
Improved muscle tone and strength
Chair yoga exercises assist seniors to gain and maintain muscle strength by improving upper and lower body function. This is especially important for them because aging reduces muscle mass, which can result in a decline in strength and function.
Manage medical conditions
Chair yoga is beneficial for seniors with health conditions such as diabetes since it helps to improve blood sugar, blood pressure, and heart rate. It also enhances blood circulation.
Reduces chronic pain
Most seniors suffer from chronic pain that interferes with their daily life. Chair yoga is a good alternative to chronic pain therapy since it helps to alleviate pain and exhaustion caused by osteoarthritis.
Mental well-being and boosted mood
Yoga has mental advantages such as lowering anxiety and improving mood. It also offers advantages such as less stress and fewer panic attacks, which improve general health, physical performance, and social well-being.
Best Chair Yoga Poses for Seniors
Chair Mountain Pose (Tadasana)
This is one of the fundamental yoga grounding postures, frequently utilized as a transitional or resting pose between other poses. By sitting on your chair instead of standing, you can modify it for chair yoga. You’ll continue to contract your abs, work on your posture, and focus your breathing.
To practice this pose;
- Sit in a chair with your sit bones on the edge, your knees directly over your ankles at a 90-degree angle, and your feet firmly on the floor with your toes pointing forwards. Your thighs ought to be hip-width apart and parallel.
- Sit tall, with your shoulders back, chest up, and your eyes forward.
- As you inhale, lengthen your spine by pushing your belly button into your spine and contracting your abdominal muscles. Visualize a string coming from the top of your head dragging you up towards the ceiling.
- As you exhale, sink into the chair with your sit bones to feel anchored and connected.
- Breathe in and out in this way for 10 to 20 full breaths.
Chair Pigeon Pose (Eka Pada Rajakapotasana)
This chair yoga pose is beneficial for seniors with tight hips and glutes. To do this pose;
- Maintain an upright, core-engaged posture.
- Raise your right leg and bend it so that your ankle sits on top of your left thigh, your right knee is out to the side, and your right shin is parallel to the front border of the chair.
- To deepen this pose, hinge your hips into a Forward Bend.
- Repeat this with your other leg.
Chair Spinal Twist Pose (Ardha Matsyendrasana)
This chair yoga position is beneficial for elderly people with tense upper or lower backs. However, this pose should not be performed by those with disc herniations, spinal stenosis, or spine osteoporosis.
- Sit on the chair’s edge with proper posture and your core engaged.
- As you exhale, turn your chest to the left, also move both arms to the left, and grab for the chair’s back.
- Repeat this on the opposite side.
- After that, alternate sides for 10 breaths.
Chair Forward Bend Pose (Uttanasana)
Depending on your flexibility, this position can help you stretch your hamstrings, low back, and shoulders.
To practice it;
- Exhale and hinge at the hips to enter a forward bend over your legs from the Seated Mountain Pose.
- Place your hands anywhere you feel a good stretch, such as your ankles or the floor, and allow your head to drop onto your lap.
- Take a deep breath in and raise your arms aloft and sit up straight.
- Alternate for 10 breaths between the forward fold and the upright sitting position.
Chair Cat-Cow Stretch (Marjaryasana-Bitilasana)
This chair yoga pose is excellent for seniors with low back discomfort, stiffness, or bad posture because it lengthens and extends the spine.
To do it;
- Sit on your sit bones at the edge of the chair, your shoulders back and your chest up. Your knees should be directly over your ankles, and your feet should be planted on the ground with your toes pointed forward. Your hands should be on top of your parallel, hip-distance-apart thighs.
- Inhale and assume the cow position by rolling your shoulders back and down and arching your back.
- As you exhale, assume the cat stance by bending your elbows, pushing your shoulders forward, and bringing your chin to your chest.
- Switch between the two stances for ten breaths.
Warrior I Pose (Virabhadrasana I)
This posture is generally performed by standing up and activating your quads, hamstrings and glutes to descend into a lunge, but you can alter it for chair yoga and reap the shoulder-strengthening advantages without having to stand up and balance. Your hip flexors will also be stretched.
To practice it;
- Position yourself such that you are facing right and the chair’s back is along your right side.
- Firmly plant your right foot on the ground.
- Slowly remove your left leg from the chair then swing it back behind you such that your front foot is parallel to the chair’s seat and your leg is stretched.
- Inhale, engaging your core to bring your arms overhead and place your hands together.
- Keep holding for five breaths before switching sides.
Chair Extended Side Angle Pose (Utthita Parsvakonasana)
This pose helps strengthen your abs, shoulders, obliques, and back while mobilizing your spine, enhancing core stability and posture.
To do it;
- Starting in the Seated Forward Fold, extend your left hand’s fingertips to the outside of your left foot. If you can’t reach the floor, use a block.
- While you take a breath, turn your chest to the right. Open your chest as you raise your right arm and look up towards the ceiling.
- Maintain for a couple of full breaths.
- When you’re ready, exhale and descend back into the Forward Fold.
- Repeat this on the opposite side.