If you have an older loved one who struggles with mobility, chair yoga is an excellent way to add low-impact exercise to their routine. Seniors with arthritis, fibromyalgia, or other chronic conditions may find this form of yoga helpful as well. Often adapted for participants with mobility problems, chair yoga can help improve flexibility, balance, strength, and resiliency.
If your older loved one is hesitant about adding yoga to their exercise regimen, consider starting with these six easy poses. They’re great for stretching the back, shoulders, and legs, which can be particularly beneficial for seniors.
Sit up straight in a chair, with your thighs hip-width apart and parallel to each other. Keep your core activated and push your belly button inwards to lift your chest. Inhale through your nose, then exhale through your mouth. Stay in this position for 10 to 20 breaths.
Seated forward fold pose is another chair yoga for seniors pose that is good for releasing tension in the neck, shoulders, lower back, or hips. It also helps stretch the spine.
Start by sitting in a chair with your feet on the floor. You can use a block or strap to prop yourself up if needed.
Next, gently swing your left leg off the seat and back behind you. After a few breaths, gently return to the front of the chair and repeat on the other side.
This gentle stretch is ideal for improving flexibility in the hamstrings, glutes, and quads. It’s also helpful for strengthening the arms, shoulders, and wrists.
Pigeon pose is an effective posture for improving shin strength and ankle mobility. It’s especially beneficial for seniors with arthritis or other joint issues, as well as those who struggle with scoliosis and poor posture.
Place one ankle on the opposite thigh and then hold your knee and foot in place. You can bend your knee if you feel comfortable.
Then, slowly twist your torso to the right side, placing the chair’s back on the seat and holding your hand for support. You can repeat this a few times on the other side before returning to the front of the chair after five breaths.
Spinal twist is a simple exercise that can be done in the comfort of your own home. It’s perfect for people who have limited thigh mobility and are looking for a more gentle yoga routine.
Begin by sitting up straight in a chair, with your shoulders back, chest up, and eyes forward. Pull your belly button in and engage your core muscles to sit tall. Inhale through your nose, then slowly exhale through your mouth. Continue this seated yoga for seniors pose for about 30 seconds before returning to the beginning.
A caregiver or family member can help an older adult do a 30-minute chair yoga routine at home. The routine should be personalized for their ability level, so skip movements that cause pain or that they tire easily. It’s also important to avoid any moves that put your older adult at risk of falling, such as squatting or lifting weights.