The classic claim is that anyone can do yoga, and this is 100% accurate. All yoga poses have modifications and people with inflexibility, injuries, or limited mobility can all engage in specific yoga poses. In fact, you can perform a wide variety of yoga poses straight from a chair.
Everyone gets something out of yoga, but the people who benefit most are seniors. The reason for this is because elderly people use the brain’s two hemispheres more equally than younger people do. Why does this matter? This ability to use the brain’s two hemispheres equally helps establish a better mind-body connection, which is one of the focal points of yoga.
Now, every elderly person is not incapable of movement. Many seniors are in great physical shape and can practice intermediate to advanced yoga poses. When you cannot do those poses, chair yoga is greatly beneficial. Chair yoga is beneficial if:
- you want to start at the very beginner level
- you have balance issues
- you don’t want to hurt yourself with more advanced poses
- you have limited mobility
The following chair yoga poses offer the same benefits of regular yoga: reduced stress, pain, and improved flexibility. Try to practice the following chair poses for 15 minutes a day. Make sure to take gentle breaths throughout the sequence.
Chair Yoga Exercises
Seated Mountain Pose:
During this pose, you must engage your core for it to be worth your while. You can come to this pose after each of the poses in this sequence to help re-center yourself. Sit up straight on your chair, plant your feet on the floor, and elongate your spine, trying to reach the crown of your head toward the ceiling. Take a deep breath in, hold for a few seconds, and then fully release your breath. Make sure your thighs are at a 90-degree angle, parallel to the floor. Hold in and tighten your lower abdominal muscles as you complete four more breaths.
Seated Cat-Cow Pose:
This pose helps to loosen the spine and establish rhythmic breathing to control your flow. Sit upright in a chair and plant your feet flat on the floor. Place your hands either on your knees or on the sides of the chair by your hips. Inhale deeply and arch your spine while rolling your shoulders down and back. Try to touch your shoulder blades together before exhaling and rounding your spine, curling forward. Move back and forth between these two positions for five breaths.
Seated Child’s Pose:
Child’s pose is a wonderfully relaxing pose, but it can be tough on your knees or ankles if you have any sort of pain in those joints. Doing child’s pose in the chair gets rid of that potential pain. Sit up straight and make sure your butt is all the way at the back of the seat. Slowly bend forward and wrap your arms under your hamstrings. You are essentially giving yourself a hug, cradling your face between your knees. Hold this pose for five deep breaths.
Seated Side Angle Pose:
This pose helps you open up your shoulders and stretch your pectoral muscles. When you reach your arm up to the ceiling, fully extend through your fingers to get the most out of this pose. From the seated child’s pose, remain in the folded position and drop both of your palms to the floor. If you cannot do that, you can use yoga blocks for support. Widen your legs, open up to the right side, and extend your right arm up, reaching your towards the ceiling. Try your best to direct your gaze up as well. Hold this pose for three deep breaths and then repeat on the other side.
Seated Warrior II Pose:
If you cannot support yourself in regular Warrior II pose, this is a great modification that offers the same benefits. Sit sideways on the chair so that your right side is touching the back of the chair. Keep your right foot planted on the ground while you swing your left leg around back, planting the sole of your foot on the ground. Inhale as you raise both arms above your head, and then exhale as you lower them so they are in line with your shoulders (see above photo). Direct your gaze toward your right hand and take three deep breaths. Repeat on the other side.