Gentle Chair Yoga Postures For Seniors:
We all know – and love! – the incredible advantages and benefits of adding yoga into a consistent routine. However, among many there remains a misrepresentation of the practice and who it’s targeted toward. Indeed, anyone and everyone has the opportunity to incorporate yoga into their lives. Sometimes, it’s about being creative in the approach. Today we discuss gentle chair yoga postures for seniors.
Yoga, in a way, is designed for anyone whom wants to partake. One of the many nuances prior to embarking on a “yoga journey” is being practical. Practical of where you are physically and mentally. It’s important to understand your body to prevent injury. It’s also helpful to be intrinsically motivated. However, if you’re struggling, we would encourage you to join a yoga class. Contact an instructor. Join a yoga group. Entering into a new journey can be excited, but also slightly nerve racking.
Oftentimes, the way in which yoga can be incorporated for anyone and everyone, is with pose modifications. This is what makes “chair yoga” so great. The chair acts as an additional stabilizer. It can also support the body in more difficult poses, if you wish to push yourself.
Above all, if you’re someone who suffers from pain in other types of fitness styles, the chair may aide in some of your discomfort. Thus, taking your mind off the pain, allowing it to fully focus on the present moment and a mind-body connection.
Studies show the physical and psychological benefits of yoga. Incorporating it into your weekly routine helps improve health, potentially noticing a difference from the very first lesson with a feeling of relaxation and comfort in the body. In time, muscle tension decreases and the joints become more mobile and pliable so that even basic movements, such as tying shoes, become more feasible.
This simple modification to more traditional yoga on the mat can be very effective. The safety and stability of the chair, gradually helps improve strength, flexibility and balance. Here’s a look at some of the more specific benefits of gentle chair yoga for seniors.
With advancing age, muscle tends to lose it’s mass, increasing the risk of trauma. In fact, muscle mass decreases 3-8% per decade after 30. Consequently, there is a decrease in strength, and function overtime.
An accident, fall or any other trauma requires adequate recovery time. The different postures that can be practiced on the chair help in a continuing effort to keep those muscles working and active. Hence, potentially decreasing your risk from an injury do to loss of mass and strength.
Aides in Posture:
Yoga can be beneficial for those who suffer from back ailments. Many postures, including those completed in a chair focus on the core of the body. This ability to help increase core strength is important for finding healthy spinal alignment.
Instead of neglecting your core, yoga continues to remind us as practitioners to engage the abdominal muscles, keeping them active in every pose we carry out.
We are not trying to re-invent the wheel, right. Losing weight has to do with creating a calorie deficit. Consequently, if you have a poor diet, eating more calories then you burn, you won’t lose weight. However, coupling yoga with a proper and healthy diet, can help in your endeavors to manage your weight. Potentially, even helping lose weight.
Secondly, this gentle approach allows someone that has been inactive to slowly come back in the world of “fitness”. Jumping back into a rigorous fitness routine, can place you at a higher risk for injury. Thus, can set you back further from you goals.
Elderly people or those with reduced mobility typically respond well to yoga, in general. One of the benefits of yoga is it’s ability to increase or improve range of motion. In fact, yoga is rising in popularity compared to that of static stretching.
Oftentimes, in styles such as restorative yoga, poses may even be held upwards of 5-10 minutes. Thus, giving the practitioner plenty of time to gently increase their stretch.
Same could be said about doing yoga in a chair. There is no set time limit to how long asanas are help. Overtime, one can increase their ROM.
Potential For Pain Relief:
Practicing yoga two or three times a week helps to strengthen the muscles and oil the joints making them stronger and consequently aiding in the reduction of pain.
In fact, literature and research exists surrounding yoga and pain relief from conditions such as fibromyalgia, chronic lower back pain, neck pain, headaches, even arthritis.
Improve Body Consciousness:
Proprioception allows us to understand the movement of the body in space and to coordinate the movements accordingly. Specifically, this can decrease in the elder population. Thus, increasing the risk for injury from falls.
Chair yoga helps the practitioner have better control of the body and movements, leading to better overall movement.
Keeps the Mind Active:
Yoga can be great for brain health. For people with degenerative diseases, Alzheimer’s patients and elderly, keeping the mind active is essential for better functioning.
Yoga is known for it’s ability to focus the mind. Ultimately, not focusing on 10 things at once, but focusing on the now. This can help give the mind more clarity.
Reduces Stress & Anxiety:
Probably the most well-known benefit from engaging in this practice, is associated with a reduction in stress and anxiety symptoms.
Yoga can help reduce stress and anxiety. This concept has been suggested and concluded from various studies. In fact, yoga may also aide in a reduction of stress in specific acute situations. It’s been shown to help enhance overall mood and overall sense of well-being.
Improved Quality of Life:
Chair yoga can improve an individual’s body structure both externally with flexibility and strength and internally with relaxation and calm. Coincidentally, effecting many faucets of ones daily life in a positive light.
A Simple Chair Yoga Sequence:
Even thought these are fairly straight forward asanas, preparation remains important. For example;
- Performing asanas in a chair with armrests, is ideal.
- Secondly, wear comfortable clothing with socks.
- Avoid a large meal prior to the workout.
- Finally, turn off the phone, unless using it as a guide or time clock
Begin on the chair. Back straight, feet flat on the floor (possibly with a cushion underneath), arms flexed, hands – palm down – resting on the thighs.
Breathe quietly for a few minutes, with your eyes closed, concentrate (dharana).
Head in the 4 directions:
- Let the head rotate on its own axis, slowly, to the left, without forcing;
- Then, stop for 1 breath.
- Go back to the center; repeat to the right, breath, return.
- Push the chin up, rest for 1 breath; return to center.
- Gently pull the chin to the chest, rest for 1 breath; return to center.
- Repeat for 2 cycles, increasing the static by 1 breath each time.
Rest before continuing to position #2: Stretch the legs, lean on the back of the chair, let the arms go freely!
Parvatasana, “Sacred Mountain”:
A Few Variations In The Video Below!
- Firstly, relax on a chair, open the arms to the side, well extended.
- With the arms at shoulder height, rotate the palms upwards.
- Continue up, bringing your arms vertical. Join your hands. Alternatively, leave them open in the sky and rest for 1 breath.
- Go back, repeating the asana in reverse sequence.
- Rest and repeat 2 more times, increasing the static by 1 breath,
Rest before continuing to position #3: Stretch the legs, lean on the back of the chair, let the arms go freely!
A Few Variations:
- Take a seat on a chair.
- Begin with your arms by your side. Then, inhale and raise your arms over head.
- Then, on exhale begin to hinge forward, extended your arms toward your legs/feet.
- Now, fold your arms overtop one another on top of your thighs for comfort.
- Relax the head.
- Rest for 3 breaths
Repeat this several times, increasing your “hold time” with each repetition.
Although yoga can seem challenging to many beginners, the practice can be very much modified to fit your abilities and lifestyle. Consequently, allowing you to reach your goals safely and effectively.
After completing this sequence, add-on other simple poses. Then, begin to challenge yourself as you see fit.