7 Chair Yoga Poses for Seniors
Our bodies are capable of doing amazing and important things. We make families, we work hard, and we take care of those we love. As we age, it can be harder to move around, and it can become a challenge to keep doing the things we love, especially when it comes to exercise.
Yoga has various benefits for your mental health, physical health, and overall well-being.
Here are some of the best yoga poses to seamlessly implement into your life to help you enjoy the benefits of exercise while being gentle on your muscles and joints.
The hormone cortisol is in control of the stress balance in our bodies. It plays an important role as it signals our bodies’ stress receptors in the case of danger, and an appropriate amount of stress helps us be productive. But too much stress can lead to various health and mental issues.
Multiple studies have shown that yoga can help reduce stress levels. If you struggle with feeling anxious or stressed, especially if you live alone or feel isolated from family and friends, practicing yoga may help you reduce stress.
Research has shown that yoga can help reduce stress and anxiety levels, which can also help decrease depression. On average, 40% of adults suffer from chronic loneliness. With the coronavirus pandemic and the business of people’s lives, you may feel as though you are alone.
If your children or loved ones have moved away, this could also contribute to feelings of loneliness. When this loneliness is left unaddressed, it can quickly develop into depression or anxiety.
Practicing yoga can help soothe a variety of physical conditions. Here are some of the most common physical benefits of yoga.
A study by Reuters Health found that if you have poor blood circulation or high blood pressure, yoga can help lower this condition and help you stay relaxed. The study also found that yoga reduced blood pressure more than other forms of exercise.
If you have trouble breathing, yoga has been shown to increase respiratory function. This is due to the high emphasis on breathing and meditation that yoga implements throughout its practice. As you move through yoga poses, you will focus on breathing slowly and deeply. This opens up airways and can improve your respiration.
If you experience head tension, joint pain, or lower back pain, yoga can help soothe this as well. Instead of a high intensity workout that could increase back pain or head pain, yoga is gentle and focuses on blood circulation, which, in turn, results in pain relief.
Yoga also increases mobility! As we age, our bodies can have a harder time keeping up with the things we like to do. Things that you once did with ease may be more difficult. Mobility is a wonderful benefit of practicing yoga. Whether you are just now starting to notice a decrease in mobility, or have experienced this challenge for a while, practicing yoga can help ease your muscles and joints and get you back to doing what you love!
Yoga vs. Other Exercise
One of the biggest benefits of yoga is its gentle movements. Unlike aerobic exercise or cardio, yoga is low impact and gentle on your joints.
Another benefit of yoga over other forms of exercise is its low risk for injury. Each pose targets specific muscles. Yoga then stretches these muscles, increasing flexibility and thus lowering your risk for injury. Yoga is also great for those with decreased mobility. If you are new to practicing yoga, there are scaled down forms of most poses so you can ease yourself into it.
Yoga Poses to Try
With all of the benefits of yoga, it’s definitely worth incorporating into your routine. Here are seven of the best yoga poses to try from a chair.
1. Ujjayi Breathing Pose
The Ujjayi breathing pose focuses on yoga breathing and meditation. Find a cozy chair or chair from your kitchen table and sit with your feet shoulder width apart. Place your hands on your waist so your elbows point out and inhale slowly. As you inhale, focus on how your stomach and rib cage expand to hold the air. Exhale slowly. You can repeat this breathing exercise ten times.
2. Cat/Cow Pose
This pose is most known for its help with back and neck tension. To perform the cat/cow pose, you’ll want to scoot to the edge of the chair, so you have room to arch your back. With your feet planted shoulder width apart, place your palms so they’re flat on your knees, take a deep breath in and arch your back so you’re looking up towards the ceiling. Next, exhale slowly, arching your back the opposite way so your head naturally tucks into your neck and you push your back out toward the back of the chair.
3. Sun Salutation Arms and Twists Pose
The sun salutations pose helps with posture because it lengthens and stretches the spine. It also helps ease tension in the head and neck.
To perform this yoga pose, sit on the edge of your chair with your feet shoulder width apart. When you inhale, slowly lift your arms upward and imagine that you are reaching to the ceiling. Press your palms together and hold for the duration of the inhale. As exhale, let your arms float back to your sides. Repeat this pose five times.
To add some spice to this pose, repeat the process above, and as you exhale twist your back toward your chair. You can repeat this up to five times. The twist adds an extra stretch for your back and spine.
4. High Altar Side Leans Pose
The high altar side leans pose helps stretch your shoulders and the sides of your spine.
To perform this pose, continue sitting at the edge of your chair with your feet shoulder width apart. With your arms straight in front of your, interlace your fingers. Inhale and rotate your arms above you so they are reaching toward the ceiling. Lean your body to the right for three deep inhales and exhales, and then lean to the left for three deep inhales and exhales.
5. Eagle Arms Pose
The eagle arms pose helps target aching shoulders and stiffness.
To perform this yoga exercise, sit on the edge of your seat with your feet shoulder width apart. Stretch your arms out to each side and then bring them to meet in the middle, right in front of your face. Allow your arms to interlace with one another. Your elbows should be bent, sitting one on top of the other, and your palms should be pressed next to each other. Hold this pose for five breaths, untangle your arms, and repeat with the other arm on top.
6. Ankle to Knee Pose
This stretch targets hip pain and mobility. Stay on the edge of your seat. Bring one foot up to sit on top of your other knee. It will look like you are about to cross your legs but keep bringing your foot to your knee.
If you can feel this stretch deep in your inner thigh and hips, you can stop here and hold for five breaths. If you want a deeper stretch, slowly lean your body forward. Hold for five breaths and repeat with the other leg.
7. Goddess with a Twist Pose
This pose is also beneficial to the hips as it loosens them up and increases mobility. Sit a little further back in your chair and spread your legs to the sides to open your hips up. Your toes should be pointing outward. Place one arm inside your leg and point your other arm straight upward. This will cause your body to lean into your hips too. Hold for five breaths and repeat on the other side.
Things To Be Aware Of
If you are new to yoga, it is important to ease yourself into it and not push your body too much. If a stretch or position is painful to perform, you can try scaling it down, or you can skip it and come back to it after a few sessions of yoga.
Don’t be discouraged if you don’t notice results right away. Even with practicing yoga three times a week, it takes time to develop these things. Go easy on yourself and remember to treat your body kindly.
It’s also important to breathe deeply throughout every pose. Breathing and meditation are the factors of yoga that define it, so as you are performing a pose, take deep, controlled breaths. To meditate, focus on something peaceful, or think of things you’re grateful for.
Yoga has been used for centuries to help blood pressure levels, ease joint and back pain, increase flexibility and mobility, while also increasing inner peace and lowering stress levels.
Yoga is a great exercise for older adults as it is low risk and low impact. These poses can be performed from a chair or sofa and you can reap the benefits of a yoga class from the comfort of your own home.