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Benefits of Chair Yoga for Seniors

by Sarasota Bay Club

Yoga is a powerful tool for enhancing both physical and mental health, offering benefits like improved weight management, mental well-being, and a reduced risk of heart disease. However, for those with mobility concerns, the intricate stretches and poses of traditional yoga can be a hurdle. This is where chair yoga steps in as an ideal solution. It retains the incredible advantages of yoga, but adapts them for accessibility and convenience, allowing the practice to be done from a seated position.

Let’s take a look at some of the benefits of chair yoga for seniors and a few simple poses to get started.

Related Blog: 4 Benefits of Walking Daily For Seniors

What is Chair Yoga? 

Chair yoga is a more gentle form of yoga that includes traditional postures using a chair as a support device. Through specific breathing techniques, relaxation, and stretching, the foundations of yoga are accomplished in both sitting and standing postures. With this approach, seniors at all fitness levels including those with limited mobility can experience the benefits that yoga brings without strain on the body. 

What are the Benefits of Chair Yoga for Seniors?

  • Improved Flexibility - Gentle stretching exercises with regular practice improve joint range of motion, and they target key areas of the body such as shoulders, wrists, neck, hips, and ankles.
  • Better Balance - Balance and stability become a concern as seniors age. Chair yoga can help to avoid the risk of falls and injury by improving balance through postures that focus on strengthening the core, and making the body more stable.
  • Improved Circulation - The gentle movement of chair yoga stimulates the circulation of blood. This in turn improves the cardiovascular system. With improved circulation comes a decrease in aches, pains, and swelling.  
  • Reduced Anxiety - Seniors will sometimes experience greater anxiety and symptoms of depression. Chair yoga offers a calming effect through the use of gentle movement, mindfulness, and deep breathing. 

Getting Started with Simple Poses

Just like traditional yoga, there are many different poses available in chair yoga. 

Seated Forward Fold

With feet spread at approximately hip-width, sit tall in a chair. Bend forward slowly from the hips and let your hands either touch the floor if you are able, or rest on your shins. Take five deep breaths while holding the post. You should feel a gentle stretch in the hamstrings and back. 

Ankle Rolls

With both feet flat on the ground, sit tall in the chair. Lift your right foot off of the floor and move your ankle in a clockwise circular rotation. Do this several times, and then repeat this following a counter-clockwise circular rotation. This will help with increasing circulation to the feet and improving mobility in the ankles. 

Spinal Twisting

Once again, with both feet flat on the ground, place the right hand on the outer part of the left knee. With a gentle motion, twist the torso toward the left so that you are looking over the left shoulder. Take five breaths as you hold the position and repeat the pose on the right side. 

With just these basic poses and a commitment to the activity, chair yoga is a great way to improve overall well-being both physically and mentally. Studies have shown the benefits to mental health such as reduced stress and anxiety are also likely to be significant. Over time with consistent practice, individuals will see improved flexibility, balance, and circulation. Remember, before starting any new exercise program or physical activity, you should consult your healthcare professional to make sure the activity is both safe and appropriate for your needs.

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