How Yoga Is Beneficial
So is yoga actually beneficial? Yes! There is a lot of scientific evidence that suggests yoga is very beneficial for your health. The beneficial effects include:
There are probably more but those are some of the major benefits that have been studied that I could find
When you consider that yoga is a form of exercise that reduces stress and improves both mobility and balance, its obvious that its beneficial to most seniors.
Yoga can also improve strength levels, so if you do not enjoy performing actual strength training, yoga can help you reap some of the benefits.
You just have to realize that chair yoga is not going to replace your strength training routine but its definitely better than nothing. In my opinion, yoga should be considered a gentle and recuperative form of exercise
If you want to keep healthy and mobile to your old age, improving and maintaining full-body strength, balance and mobility is the key. It allows you to remain independent and improves your quality of life.
Chair Yoga Routines And Videos
If you have never done yoga before, the best option is to locate a qualified and experienced yoga teacher. They can help you learn how to do each pose safely and offer modifications for those poses that are more challenging.
The next best way to get started is to work with a yoga video. The internet is a treasure trove of high-quality chair yoga videos to get you started. Here are five of our favorites.
Gentle Yoga Exercise Videos For Seniors
The best place to begin is our subscriber-only Back to Health Senior 30-Day Yoga Challenge, which begins with very gentle, short, beginner yoga classes and progresses to ones that are slightly more challenging and rewarding. If you aren’t able to afford a sustaining membership at this time, apply for one of our bursaries.
Duration: 30 days, 1 class/dayInstructors: David Procyshyn, Satiya Channer, Tianne Allen
This 30-day yoga challenge designed for seniors offers you a daily practice that alternates between yoga classes and guided meditations. It is designed to help you safely improve your mobility, strength and balance, while teaching you how to relax and feel less stress and anxiety. Classes are ideal for 55+.
If you would prefer to try a few classes first, here is a sample of our free classes that are great for 55+:
Duration: 6 minsInstructor: David Procyshyn
This gentle introduction to yoga helps you understand how to move and stretch in a way that is safe and most beneficial to you and your body. David teaches you a few basic principles of yoga that you can carry with you into any class.
Duration: 27 minsInstructor: David Procyshyn
Duration: 16 minsInstructor: David Procyshyn
Duration: 19 minsInstructor: David Procyshyn
This is a gentle yoga classes that teaches you how to do yoga safely, to get the most benefit and avoid injury. David teaches you how to sit, stretch and adapt your poses and movement using yoga props, including blankets, blocks and a chair .
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Yoga And Fall Prevention
Due to the natural effects of aging, older adults are at a higher risk for falling than younger people. Each year, one out of every three seniors experiences a fall, and 50% of those have more than one fall. Unfortunately, falls can result in hospitalization and harmful complications such as pressure ulcers, muscle damage and dehydration without prompt medical help. Taking steps to prevent falls should be a priority for all older adults.
Seniors Yoga is an excellent way to reduce your risk of falling. Its slow, measured movements, strengthening poses and focused breathing help you improve your balance, flexibility, stability and strength as well as giving you a sense of well-being and enhanced quality of life.
Read our Fall Prevention Guide for more tips and resources to help you prevent falls from occurring.
Strength And Flexibility Building Poses
Some of the poses in the following might be challenging. Start with the poses that feel alright. After practicing for a while, you can start practicing the poses that feel more challenging for you.
1 Downward Facing Dog With Chair Support
Stand in front of your chair. You can place the chair with either the front or back facing you, depending on which height suits you best. Place your hands on the chair, and walk your feet back until your back is straight. Your feet are grounded with hip-width distance.
Press your hands into the chair. Roll your shoulders back and down. Engage your core muscles, squeeze your navel up and in. Open your chest. Point your sitting bones upward. Stretching the whole backside of your body. Breathe here. Stay for a couple of breaths.
Tip: You can use a table instead of a chair if this feels better in your body.
2 Seated Boat Pose
- Seated Boat Pose-Both Legs
- Seated Boat Pose-Arms Forward
You can do this pose with both legs at the same time or one leg at a time. Sit on your chair with your sitting bones towards the outer edge. Make sure you still feel comfortable and stable. From here you can lift either one or both legs. Grab onto the backs of your thighs with your hands. Engage your core. Pull your navel in and up.
Tip: You can also try placing blocks under your feet, which can make the pose more accessible.
3 High Lunge With Chair Support
Tip: You can place a block under your front foot.
4 Seated Eagle Pose
5 Seated Camel Pose
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Why Is Chair Yoga For Seniors So Powerful
As we reach our 60s, we know instinctively that keeping fit and flexible is essential. But most of us have little tolerance for gyms and aerobics classes.
So, whats the alternative? Many women I know have turned to gentle yoga, which is a fantastic option for getting in shape after 60. But what if you have mobility problems or are just feeling a bit fragile these days? Maybe its time to consider chair yoga.
Chair Extended Side Angle
Verywell / Ben Goldstein
After your final forward bend, stay folded. Bring your left fingertips to the floor on the outside of your left foot. If your left hand doesn’t come easily to the floor, place a block under it or bring it to your left knee instead and twist from there.
Open your chest as you twist to the right on an inhale, bringing your right arm and gaze up at the ceiling. This is your chair version of extended side angle pose. Hold here for several breaths. Bring the right arm down on an exhale.
Do the same position with the right arm down and the left arm up.
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A Closer Look At These Chair Yoga Exercises:
Unless you have some experience with chair yoga, you probably need more than a graphic to perform the exercises above. Proper technique is important for your personal safety, and to make sure youre getting the most out of these exercises. Read more about the exercises below for a closer look at these essential chair yoga poses.
Sphinx Pose Salamba Bhujangasana
- Step 1: Start on your stomach with feet hip distance apart and forehead on the ground.
- Step 2: Lift the upper body. Place your forearms shoulder distance apart and parallel to each other. Move the shoulder away from the ears.
- Step 3: Inhale and lift the head up. Tuck your chin to ensure the back of the neck is long
- Step 4: Pull the centre of the chest forward. Take a few deep relaxing breaths here.
- Step 5: Exhale to gently bring down your abdomen, chest and head back to the floor.
Variations: In case your shoulders hurt, use a cushion under the chest for added support.
Benefits: This is one of the most relaxing poses for the back and neck. It also stimulates the abdominal organs and expands the chest and shoulders and builds strength in the back.
Recommended Reading: Long Island Center For Yoga
Gentle Chair Yoga Seated Twist
Raise the heels of your feet but permit your toes to remain on the floor .
Bring your thighs together. Inhale and think of elongating the spine as the lungs fill with air. Exhale and slowly turn your torso toward the right. At the same time that you do this, shift your legs to the left.
Take 3-6 deep breaths in this twisted position, trying to move the upper and lower body further in opposite directions from each other. Then on an inhalation, return to the center. Repeat this seated twist to the opposite side.
You will experience a release of tension and tightness in the back as you perform this stretch. You may want to repeat it two times in each direction.
Palm Tree Pose Tadasana
- Step 1: Start in mountain pose.
- Step 2: Gaze at a steady point. Lift the hands up and interlock the fingers overhead, flip the palms up
- Step 3: Inhale and lift both the heels off the mat. Stretch as much as possible without over arching the back.
- Step 4: Stay here for 5-10 breaths. Exhale to rest the heels back down and return to starting pose
Variations: To maintain balance, this yoga routine can be done by seniors next to a wall.
Benefits: Good for stretching the arms, chest, abdomen, spine and the legs. It helps with concentration, focus and improves posture, increases awareness and steadies the breath. Practice this pose for longer to help with digestion, blood circulation and building strength in the abdomen and legs.
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Healthy Mind Healthy Life
A unique collaboration between YWCA of Northern NJ and Sarah Hiller-Bersson, LCSW, Center for Purposeful Aging seeks to give seniors a voice and a safe engaging space to have their feelings, experiences and philosophies of life validated.
Currently available via Zoom every Monday at 11 a.m. from January 3 to March 21.
These classes are made available FREE of charge for seniors through the Bergen County Division of Senior Services
These programs are made available FREE of charge for Bergen County seniors through a contract with Bergen County Division of Senior Services.
Twisting Cobra Pose Parvrtta Bhujangasana
- Step 1: Start in prone position, with belly and forehead on the mat, feet as wide as the yoga mat and palms by the side of the ribcage.
- Step 2: Inhale to lift the chest and head up till arms are straight. Avoid shrugging shoulders
- Step 3: Exhale to twist to the right. Stay here for 3-5 breaths.
- Step 4: Inhale back to centre and exhale to come back down. Repeat on the other side.
Variations: Try to lift the chest a little lower if this pose is too difficult. You can also place a folded thin blanket under the hip bones for more support.
Benefits: This pose is great to increase flexibility of the back. Great to include as part of exercise program for people with constipation it massages and stimulates liver and kidneys
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Work At Your Own Pace
Its important to work at your own pace and within your limitations. If you join a yoga class, youll likely be in a group with people of different skill levels. Its ok to push yourself a little, but be mindful not to hurt yourself. If youre in a pose and start to feel pain, back out of it slowly until the pain subsides. Some days you may feel more flexible or strong than others, so keep this in mind even when practicing familiar poses.
Most yoga poses can be modified to take into account joint pain and skill levels. Ask the yoga teacher for help before class or during a session if you want tips on how to modify a pose that may be hard for you.
Top 7 Benefits Of Yoga For Seniors
1.) It keeps your mind sharp
Yoga allows you to slow down your breathing and meditate, creating a quiet time for calm reflection that sharpens the mind and improves cognitive function. Giving your mind a break from the frantic pace of everyday life can relieve stress and keep you centered and organized. Many people who practice yoga regularly report an improvement in their mood and memory.
2.) It strengthens bones and joints
As we age, our bones lose density and our joints become stiffer.Osteoporosis becomes a problem for some people. A gentle yoga practice can be very effective in preventing or slowing down the loss of bone density, relieving bone and joint pain and is safe for people with osteoporosis. Joint stiffness and tenderness can be reduced by moving your joints regularly.
Be sure to tell your instructor about any problems you have with your bones or joints. They can modify your routine and provide helpful props.
3.) It improves your balance and stamina
Yogas slow, measured movements and holding poses help you achieve better balance and improves your strength as you age. While you may feel a bit wobbly at first, youll find that your ability to perform the poses and keep your balance gradually improves.
4.) It reduces stress
5.) It improves sleeping habits
6.) It slows down the aging
7.) It reduces back pain
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Be Mindful Of Balance
For chair yoga, balance isnt as important as standing poses. However, you may still experience dizziness or a loss of balance when practicing some chair yoga poses. You can try practicing balance exercises for seniors to improve your balance, and thus, your ability to do other yoga poses. You can also have a friend or family member with you when you attempt your first few chair yoga sessions to monitor your balance and prevent falls.
Make sure to use a sturdy chair when practicing chair yoga. Chairs that have arms on the side may be useful when you need to stand up and sit down, but the arms may also get in the way of some yoga poses. If you feel stable enough, try using a chair without arms. If not, be aware of the chair arms when moving in and out of yoga poses.
Discuss It With Your Doctor
Its always a good idea to consult your doctor before starting an exercise program. Your physician can help you determine if you should avoid particular exercises or modify movements for pain or joint disorders. In general, yoga is considered safe for most older adults, though its important to know your limits and discuss a program with your doctor before starting.
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Dont Let Excuses Hold You Back From Giving Your Body The Love It Deserves
Lets be honest. There are hundreds of excuses that we give ourselves when it comes to starting an exercise program even one as easy and gentle as chair yoga. Perhaps, like me, you have gained a little extra weight this past year. Or maybe you just feel stiff and inflexible.
Maybe you have an injury. Or maybe you feel that youre too busy to exercise. If anything, these are all reasons to consider chair yoga, not reasons to avoid it!
Now, the big caveat here is that everyones body is different, so you should definitely check with your doctor before starting any exercise program. But, that said, I have never met a single person who has regretted starting gentle yoga especially chair yoga.
Its not just about the physical benefits. Chair yoga is also a great way to reconnect with your body and calm your mind.
The Best Chair Yoga Dvd
If you are looking for the best instructional chair yoga DVD thats suitable for seniors, my recommendation is the Yoga Vitality chair yoga video . Its available as a DVD and as an Amazon Prime Video.
The Yoga Vitaly video course introduces a unique anatomy-based approach to yoga thats designed for healthy aging. In their own words, its a part workout, part physical therapy session, and part relaxing retreat.
The program is designed for seniors, older people, and beginners so people of any fitness level can use it successfully.
The DVD comes with free streaming access to the workouts as well so you can use it on the go with your phone for example.
This is a great gift idea if you are looking to help a seniors relative or friend to get more exercise.
The course has a 4.7. out of 5.0-star rating in Amazon with 140 reviews, so its definitely a high-quality course that people have liked and found useful.
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The Best Chair Yoga Poses For Seniors
In the following, you can learn to do different chair yoga poses that are great for seniors. All poses are described carefully with pictures. Be mindful of your body and your breath. If you find it hard to breathe in one of the postures, slowly back out, and choose another variation of the pose. Always listen to your body. You do not need to stretch to the same degree I do in the pictures. How a pose feels will change from day to day.
The poses are categorized as either warm-ups, strength- and flexibility-building, or cool-downs. You can do them in the set order, as a sequence, or you can pick a few and start with those. Go easy on yourself and have fun with it.
Safety And Comfort Is The Top Priority
The number one priority is to keep your older adult safe and comfortable.
None of these movements should hurt.
Make sure your older adult moves slowly and gently and pays attention to their body. Its better to do a little less rather than risk injury.
Older adults should follow the instructors movements only as far as is comfortable.
Even if they only do a fraction of the range of motion or have to skip some movements, theyll still benefit from the exercises.
Over time, their flexibility and strength will improve and theyll be able to do more and more.
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