Part of getting older is a gradual slowing down. Far from the frantic pace of youth and middle age, many seniors have a unique opportunity to take their time in their daily activities. For some, injuries or chronic pain may require a slower pace, while other seniors may just want to be more intentional as they move about their day. Fortunately, chair yoga for seniors can accommodate not only the natural aging process but it can also help those with limited mobility stay active. Here’s our favorite chair yoga poses, as well as benefits.
What are the benefits of chair yoga for seniors and those with limited mobility?
Chair yoga benefits not only seniors but also those with limited mobility due to chronic pain, disability, or acute injuries. Wheelchair yoga and gentle chair yoga are practices that strengthen body and mind, with research-backed benefits. Consider the following studies.
A 2017 study published in The Journal of Geriatrics found that chair yoga participants with osteoarthritis who took a 45-minute class twice a week for eight weeks experienced a statistically significant reduction in pain and pain’s interference with daily activities. They also saw improvement in walking speed. These improvements were sustained for three months after the study.
For seniors prone to falling, a small study in 2012 found that chair yoga reduced the risk of falls and also moderated the anxiety many seniors felt around falling. For older adults, falling is the leading cause of both fatal and non-fatal injury, with an estimated 50% of adults over 80 falling annually. This study, and a previous study in 2010, indicates that chair yoga for seniors can help reduce the risk (and fear) of falling.
Other researched-based benefits of chair yoga for seniors and those with limited mobility include:
- Decreased stress
- Relief from anxiety and PTSD
- Reduction of inflammation
- Slow the progression of heart disease
These benefits are available to anyone who shows up and practices on a regular basis. Whether you are a senior looking to maintain good physical condition, a person of any age recovering from an acute injury, or someone who has limited mobility or pain, seated yoga poses are a good option for mind-body wellness and health.
How to get started with chair yoga
Gentle chair yoga and seated yoga poses are usually accessible for anyone, even beginners, but there are a few safety tips before you get started.
- Talk with your doctor: Always check with your primary doctor before beginning any new exercise routine. While yoga is generally recognized as safe and effective for all fitness levels, it’s important to coordinate all treatments – including new exercise.
- Use props: Props can help make the poses below more accessible and comfortable when you are starting. A sturdy chair is the first prop to gather, but yoga blocks, a blanket, and a strap or belt can also help.
- Mind your balance: If you struggle with balance, make sure you have someone with you as you get started.
- Find a class: A simple Google search can help you locate a yoga studio near you. A qualified and experienced teacher can help you gain confidence and build a safe home practice.
Once you start a regular home practice, it’s important to listen to your body. Chronic pain conditions can change from day to day, so what felt good one day may be excruciating the next. In any pose, sharp and stabbing pain is a clear indication that you need to come out of the pose or use a prop to make it more comfortable.
Be patient with yourself as you explore the poses below. If you are just starting a new exercise routine, you may feel discouraged when some of the poses are challenging. Start slowly and be consistent in your practice, breathe, and remind you