7 Benefits of Chair Yoga for Seniors
Are you looking for stress relief or perhaps a way to be more active? Maybe someone mentioned chair yoga to you thinking that you may enjoy partaking in a class.
Yoga can be a challenging practice that pushes your body or a gentle form of exercise that focuses on stretches and movements and the importance of breath.
Through research, all forms of yoga have been shown to have extensive health benefits. While you may think you need to have incredible balance or flexibility, chair yoga can benefit anyone regardless of their current fitness level.
What is Chair Yoga?
Whether or not you have mobility issues, chair yoga is a form of yoga that offers an opportunity to take advantage of the benefits of yoga, without worrying about the risk of falls or injury.
Very little is needed for chair yoga. Find an area of your home with space to move and a study chair. You may choose to have a computer or tablet with you in order to follow along with an online instructional video.
Regular exercise is important to one's overall health and well-being. Gentle chair yoga is a nice way to slowly introduce exercise into your daily life and can even complement a pre-existing exercise routine.
How can Chair Yoga Benefits Seniors?
If you need more convincing, here are seven reasons to try out chair yoga.
1. Improves posture
As we age, it’s not uncommon for our spines to lose flexibility and begin to curve. This can cause some pain or discomfort, and impact balance.
Chair yoga can positively impact your posture through poses (or postures!) such as the chair cat-cow pose. This involves sitting straight, with your feet planted and moving between an arched back and a curved back. This is one of many, simple movements that can help you with your posture.
2. Improves balance
Falls are one of the largest reasons for hospitalizations for older adults. Chair yoga can decrease the risk of falls through increased strength and muscle tone.
3. Increases Coordination & Body Control
Chair yoga helps you to increase awareness of your own body. This also can positively impact your balance and thereby decrease the risk of falls.
Studies have also shown that people living with Parkinson’s disease had decreased tremors after practicing yoga.
4. Increase flexibility
One of chair yoga’s biggest benefits is increased flexibility and range of motion. Having increased movement can help you move more freely throughout the day.
5. Decreases Inflammation
Chronic pain, joint pain, and inflammation may increase as we age, but chair yoga can reduce some of this pain. Through gentle, low-impact movements, you can move your muscles with limited distress.
Of course, if you do have chronic pain be sure you check with your doctor or healthcare provider to ensure you have no movement restrictions. Chair yoga can be a pain management strategy to complement, or sometimes replace medication.
6. Reduces Stress
Exercise releases endorphins which reduce stress.
Taking time to focus on your breathing has significant reductions in stress and anxiety. Reducing stress and anxiety has been shown to improve cognition as well. When practicing chair yoga, be sure to focus on deep breaths with every movement - this can take time to develop.
7. Improves Sleep
Exercise programs in general lead to better sleep, which has a variety of health benefits including managing chronic illnesses. Implementing chair yoga into your daily routine can help you throughout your day - not just at the moment.
Looking to get started?
A few common chair yoga poses to start with include:
Chair Forward Bend
With feet firmly planted, bend at the hip and reach towards the ground. As you bend, take a deep breath in and then exhale completely.
The chair eagle involves twisting the right arm over the left arm in front of you and placing the right leg over the left leg at the same time. If you find both to be difficult, do one twist at a time.
Chair Spinal Twist
Take turns twisting to one side of the chair. This should be done in slow movements, with a deep breath in for each turn.
These poses are just a place to start. Joining a chair yoga class is your best option for fully taking advantage of the benefits of chair yoga.
To participate in person in a chair yoga class, check out your local senior center or community center for upcoming classes.
To practice chair yoga in your own home, find a sturdy chair and check out some of the many online chair yoga videos.
If you enjoy exercising with someone, invite a loved one to join you. You can find a video focusing on what you’d like to improve - whether it’s balance, lower body movements, stress relief, and more.
Whether you’re a beginner or returning to a yoga practice after some time away, chair yoga will have an overall positive impact on your wellness, now and in the