What is Chair Yoga for Seniors?
I’ve talked about the importance of having good mobility as you age on a few occasions now and that is because it is so important. Having a good range of motion and the ability to fully use every area of your body helps reduce the risk of a serious fall. More than that though, a good range of motion can help keep your brain active too. A great way to improve your mobility as a senior is with chair yoga. In this article, we will discuss what chair yoga for seniors is and what you can expect.
What is Chair Yoga?
Chair yoga is exactly what you would think it is. It is when you use a chair to help you with your yoga poses. There are entire classes out there that are dedicated to doing yoga in a chair. It can be a great alternative to other styles of yoga. But why?
Well, when you use the chair, it can help you to be able to hold your balancing poses with ease which reduces the chances of falling. In turn, this type of exercising can then help reduce your risk of falling in your everyday life. There are a lot more benefits to chair yoga than just preventing falls too.
According to multiple publications and experts, chair yoga can:
- Increase mobility
- Reduce or relieve pain
- Help arthritis
- Lower blood pressure
- Help your organs to function better
- Helps improve brain function
As you can see, there are a lot of reasons why chair yoga is a great option for a physical activity.
What to Expect From a Chair Yoga Class
Now that you know what chair yoga is, you are probably wondering what a class is like and how you get started. First of all, you will need a sturdy four-legged chair, a yoga mat, and an optional blanket. The blanket is more for cushioning the chair seat if you find it to be too hard.
The structure of a class may start with dry-brushing to create heat in the body. Then it is often common to do some breathing exercises to help get oxygen to all of your muscles. Breathing is very important in yoga and in chair yoga it is often paired with dynamic movement to continue warming up your body. After that you will start doing different yoga poses that will include sitting in the chair or standing and using the chair as a prop.
With all of that now said, there are some chair yoga poses that you can do at home. If you practice these poses only once or twice a week, they can help to improve your health and balance in the long term.
Chair Yoga Poses
The way I have set up these poses is so that you can move from one to the next in the easiest way possible. I will also tell you how to do the pose and what area the pose will help you with in your everyday life.
To do dry brushing it is very simple. Sit in the chair with a straight spine and do not lean on the back of the chair. Rub your hands together to create heat. Then rub your warm hands on your feet, legs, torso, and arms. The friction helps stimulate your muscles and create better blood flow. Dry brushing stimulates the lymphatic system which is responsible for draining toxins in your body.
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Dynamic Seated Breathing
Next, sit with a straight spine without leaning on the back of the chair. Take deep breaths where you suck air into both your lungs and your belly. Raise your arms into the air so they are in a cactus-like position. When you exhale, slightly curl your spine and bring your elbows to touch. When you inhale, bring your arms back out and open your chest wide. Do this at least five times to help bring more oxygen into your body and make your muscles work better.
Seated Cat-Cow Pose
Now, put your knees in front of you touching, and try to have the bend of your knees form a 90-degree angle. Place the palms of your hands on top of your knees and sit with a straight spine. When you inhale, curl your back backward. When you exhale, curl your back forwards. This pose helps to bring more flexibility to your spine and stretch out your neck and shoulders. It can help to improve mobility.
Seated Forward Fold
Next, without changing the beginning posture for the previous pose, you will inhale and bring your arms straight up overhead. On the exhale, fold forward in your seat bringing your chest to your knees. If you can do this, part your knees and bring your chest further down and touch your hands to the floor. Try to bend from your hips and not your back. Try to hold it for at least 30 seconds. This pose helps to stimulate your internal organs, stretch your hamstrings, and increase pelvic circulation.
Seated Extended Side Angle
After that, sit back up into the same beginning postures. This time you will bring your arms up and out to your sides in a T-shape. Then bring your right hand to the outside of your left foot while keeping that T-shape with your arms. Look up to your left hand and try to hold for 30 seconds. Then repeat on the other side. This is a spinal twist that stretches your spine, waist, lungs, and arms. It stimulates your organs in the abdomen and can also help with stamina.
Seated Eagle Pose
Return to the beginning posture. Now cross your right leg over the top of your left leg. Try to tuck your right big toe behind your left calf (do not do this if you have knee problems). Then take your right and left arms and make a 90-degree angle at the elbow in front of your body. Place the right arm over the left and try to twist the hands together. Hold for 30-seconds and then do the other side. This pose can help with sciatica as well as balance and stretch your whole body.
Standing Triangle Pose
Now, stand up with the seat of the chair in front of you. Keep your right foot pointed directly at the chair and step your left foot back. Place it on the floor at a perpendicular angle to your right foot. There should be a gap of about 4 feet between your two feet. Then lean forward and place your right hand on the seat of the chair and raise your left hand over your head. Hold for 30 seconds then do the other side. This provides your full body with a stretch, helps with balance, and avoids the risk of falling.
Standing Tree Pose
Finally, stand with the back of the chair facing you. Place your right hand on the chair to help keep your balance. Lift your left foot off the ground and place it on your right calf. Lift your left-hand overhead and stretch it out like a tree branch. Try to hold for 30 seconds. If you feel like you are losing your balance, simply come out of the pose and then return to it. This pose strengthens bones, provides stability in your legs, strengthens ankle and foot tendons, and improves balance.