Do you enjoy practicing yoga, but can’t stand standing in poses for long periods of time?
Or maybe you’re not able to get down on the ground due to health reasons.
Chair yoga is a great alternative for those who want to enjoy the benefits of yoga, but don’t have the ability to do traditional poses.
In this blog post, we will be discussing the benefits of chair yoga for seniors and go over six easy seated poses that are perfect for older adults who want to give modified poses a try.
Benefits of Chair Yoga for Seniors
Yoga has countless benefits, and that holds true regardless of your age. Older adults, though, arguably have the most to gain from practicing chair yoga.
There are many benefits of chair yoga for seniors, including:
- Low impact on joints — it’s a great way to stay active without putting too much strain on your joints
- Improved flexibility — with regular practice, you can expect to see an improvement in your flexibility
- Better balance — reduces your risk of falls and injury by strengthening the muscles around the ankles, knees, and hips
- Improved coordination — by teaching the mind and body to work together more effectively
- Stress reduction — the breathing exercises and relaxation techniques learned in chair yoga can reduce stress
- Improved circulation — the poses also help to increase blood flow and oxygen levels in the body
- Better pain management — those who practice chair yoga find that it helps to reduce tension headaches, neck or back pain, and even chronic pain
With all these benefits in mind, let’s rev up the excitement and dive into the modified chair yoga poses.
7 Easy Chair Yoga Exercises for Seniors
#1 Neck Stretch
The seated neck stretch is a simple yoga pose that can be done anywhere, anytime.
To do the pose, simply sit up tall in a chair with your feet flat on the floor. Take a deep breath in, and as you exhale, slowly lower your chin to your chest. Gently press your fingertips onto the side of your head and tilt it to the right, then to the left.
You should feel a gentle stretch in the back of your neck. Release and repeat on the other side. To intensify the stretch, you can place your left hand on your left shoulder and gently pull your head down toward your right shoulder.
This pose is a great way to release tension from the neck and shoulders, and it can also help to improve your posture.
#2 Extended Side Angle
The seated extended side angle chair yoga pose is a great way to stretch your hips and lengthen your spine.
To do the pose, start by sitting on a chair with your left thigh on the seat. Next, stretch your right leg out on the other side with a slight bend in your knee. As you inhale, raise your right arm up above your head.
Then, place your left arm on your left thigh and look up toward the ceiling as you exhale. Hold the pose for a few deep breaths before repeating it on the other side.
This pose is beneficial because it helps to improve flexibility in the hips and spine. It also helps to relieve lower back pain and fatigue. And, when done regularly, it can help to improve your overall posture.
And if that’s not enough to convince you regularly practice the extended side angle, one more big benefit is any hip-opening stretch helps release any emotional tension.
As in, there’s a link between tight hips and your emotions, and both neuroscience and somatics reveal your hips may store your emotions – so it’s worth a solid hip stretch any time you feel emotionally stressed.
#3 Downward Dog
The seated downward dog is a great way to get a quick stretch in, no matter where you are. All you need is a sturdy chair and a little bit of space.
To begin, stand in front of the chair with your feet hip-width apart. Place your hands on the seat of the chair, fingers pointing toward your feet. Inhale first, then as you exhale, lift your hips and straighten your legs, coming into an inverted “v” shape. Make sure to keep your back flat and your core engaged. Hold for a few deep breaths, then release back to starting position.
This simple pose benefits the whole body, stretches the hamstrings and calves, and strengthens the core muscles. Plus, it’s a great way to relieve tension headaches. Give it a try next time you’re feeling tight.
#4 Backbend Arch
The backbend arch pose is a great way to open up the chest and lengthen the spine. Here’s how to do it:
Sit on the edge of a chair with your feet flat on the ground. Place your palms on the bottom back of the chair and slowly lean back, arching your spine. Hold the pose for a few deep breaths, then release and return to sitting upright. You can also place a blanket or block under your pelvis for added support.
This simple pose can help to relieve tension in the neck and shoulders, and it’s also great for improving posture. On top of that, it can boost your energy levels and increase flexibility in your spine.
So next time you’re feeling sluggish or tight, give the backbend arch pose a shot. You may be surprised at how good it feels to open your chest and lengthen that spine.
#5 Toe Touch
The toe touch pose is a simple, yet effective, way to stretch the muscles in your back and legs.
To do the pose, start by sitting in a chair with your feet flat on the ground. Then, reach forward and place your hands on your toes. Next, keep your back straight, and slowly lean forward until you feel a stretch in your back and legs. Hold the pose for 30 seconds to 1 minute, then slowly return to the starting position.
And, like all yoga stretches, remember to breathe. The toe touch pose can help to improve flexibility and range of motion in your back and legs, and can also help you relieve any tension and pain in these areas.
Also, the pose can help to improve balance and coordination. To get the most benefit from the pose, perform it regularly as part of your exercise or stretching routine.
#6 Restoration Pose
Use this pose as the last exercise in your chair yoga sequence. It’ll relieve any tension you feel in your body, move the blood circulation in the opposite direction, and help you tap into a relaxing meditative state.
Begin by lying on the floor with your legs leaning on the chair. Place your arms at your sides with your palms facing up. Close your eyes and take a few deep breaths, letting your body relax into the floor as you exhale. Stay in this pose for as long as you like, then slowly sit up and open your eyes.
This pose is great for centering yourself and can help to reduce stress and anxiety.
A New Way to Stay Active
Although chair yoga is a newer form of yoga, it has quickly become popular because it’s perfect for beginners who want to work their way up and for those who are unable to stand or kneel.
To recap our six senior chair yoga poses:
- #1 Neck stretch — relieve the tension in your neck and shoulder area in minutes
- #2 Extended side angle — lengthen your hips and spine to work on your posture
- #3 Downward dog — stretch your legs while strengthening your core
- #4 Backbend arch — boost your energy while elongating your spine
- #5 Toe touch — improve your range of motion and curb any back pain
- #6 Restoration pose — relax at the end of your chair yoga sequence
If you are looking for a low-impact exercise routine that can be done from the comfort of your home, senior chair yoga is definitely worth considering.
These six easy poses are a great place to start. Give them a try today and see how good they make you feel.
And if you’re looking for even more seated exercises, check out our list of 11 chair exercises for older adults.