Chair Yoga for Seniors (or Anyone Needing A Little Extra Support)
The benefits of yoga for relaxation and flexibility are indisputable, and its popularity has skyrocketed in the past decade. In fact, a 2016 study by the Yoga Alliance published in Forbes magazine indicated that nearly 37 million Americans were actively practicing yoga, and that number has undoubtedly grown in the past two years.
But not everyone can, or wants to, get down on the floor with (possibly) sweaty strangers to get their Om on. For many, traditional yoga poses are painful and even dangerous, especially if balance is a concern. Chair yoga provides the same opportunities for improved mental health and movement without the physical challenges of more traditional yoga forms.
What Is Chair Yoga?
Yogapedia defines chair yoga as a “gentle practice in which postures (or poses) are performed while seated and/or with the aid of a chair.” Persons with disabilities or other limitations, or beginners who aren’t comfortable going to a yoga studio or class, can safely and easily practice yoga using a chair to sit in or for support. The benefits of doing chair yoga are the same as those experienced in more traditional forms. Mindfulness and concentration may improve, strength and flexibility can increase, and doing any type of yoga has been shown to aid in stress relief.
Chair Yoga Poses and Classes
Chair yoga poses can be done at home or at work – all while sitting in or holding onto a stable, stationary chair. You can find free chair yoga videos on YouTube, allowing you to get comfortable with poses and terminology before venturing out for a class in your area. Those familiar with traditional yoga poses will recognize names like “Cat-Cow”, “Eagle”, and “Warrior 1”. The kinder, gentler versions of these poses can help most people feel better, sleep more soundly, and gain a general sense of improved well-being. Check with your local senior center, community education program, fitness club, or meditation center for chair yoga classes near you.
Is Chair Yoga Right for You?
While chair yoga was originally developed to help older adults stay active and strong, anyone can benefit from this gentle form of exercise. If you are overweight, have other health challenges that impact your ability to move easily, or spend a lot of time sitting at work, chair yoga may be just the right type of exercise to help you feel better. Of course, speak with your doctor first to see if chair yoga is appropriate for your health and fitness level.