Yoga can be intimidating for seniors. With all the different poses and stretches you might think it just isn’t for you. However, yoga actually has many benefits including relaxation, improved flexibility, and increased cardiovascular health.
But did you know that there are yoga poses you can do while on a chair? Chair yoga is something you can easily do at work or at home. Here is a quick list of different chair yoga exercises for seniors.
Chair Yoga For Seniors: 13 Poses and Exercises for Your Flexibility and Breathing
1. Seated Mountain Pose
The mountain pose is the starting point of any yoga workout and this chair variant is no different. From your normal seated position, place your hands on your thighs palms down and move forward towards the front half of the chair. With your feet flat on the floor and legs comfortably apart, try to push your lower body down into the chair while pulling your head and upper body away from the chair. You should also keep in mind how you are breathing while doing this pose. Take note of that natural rise and fall of your breath. Return to this pose between poses and exercises as a grounding and resting pose.
2. Cat and Cow Pose
A combination of two poses, the cat and cow pose is a great way to start your chair yoga. Not only does it help with stretching your back, but it’s also a good breathing exercise. From a normal seated position with your hands on your thighs, inhale while arching your spine forward and try to push your stomach outward while lifting your chest to the ceiling while looking up. Then exhale and gently arch your spine while lifting your shoulders up and look down at your stomach. Finally, inhale again and return to your seated position with a neutral spine. Repeat this a few more times and remember to concentrate on your breathing.
3. Cobra Chair Pose
The cobra pose chair variant is another great stretch for your back and spine. Again sitting towards the front half of your chair, arch your back outward while bringing your shoulder blades together. Place your hands behind you on the chair for support while trying to look up. Hold this pose for as long as you can (several breaths) and then return to a normal seated position.
4. Neck Stretch
A fairly simple yet satisfying exercise, a neck stretch is a great yoga pose for neck and shoulder pain. First, take your right hand and lift it above and over your head. While holding on to the left side of your face, pull your head towards the right side of your body. Repeat this exercise with the other side of your neck, using your left arm as support.
5. Sun Salutation Pose – Arms Only
Usually, this is a more complex set of poses but this version of the sun salutation pose is simple and is great for breathing while getting moving. While seated with your back straightened and arms down to the side, inhale slowly while lifting your arms up and let your hands meet above your head. Hold for a few seconds then on the exhale, slowly bring your arms down back to your side. Repeat this exercise a few times. This pose is great chair yoga for beginners and seniors alike. Even though it is a simple exercise, you can combine it with others, like the next one on our list.
6. Side Lean
Another good back and shoulder stretch, the side lean is a good follow up from the previous pose on the list. While having your arms up over your head interlace your fingers together and point your palms to the ceiling. Then bend toward the left, trying to keep your body and arms as straight as possible and do the same towards your right side. Alternate each side a few times and then go back to the center and then return to your normal seated position.
7. Seated Twist
The seated twist move is a great way to stretch your entire back. You may even hear some cracks and pops as you twist. Starting from a normal seated position, place your left hand over your right knee. Twist your body slowly toward the right while using your right hand as leverage on the chair. If you can, try to look over your shoulder but don’t overdo it. You should only twist as far as it is comfortable for you. Repeat this exercise for the left side twist.
8. Seated Pigeon
A good lower back and butt stretch, you can even combine this pose with the seated twist. You first start from a seated position then raise your left leg into your right thigh, try to keep your left ankle above your right knee. Take a nice deep breath and then while exhaling, lean forward as far as you can. You should feel the stretch on your left leg and lower back. You can even do a side twist while in this position. Repeat the stretch a few times before switching to the other leg.
9. Forward Bend
We all know how hard it can be to bend down and reach for your toes while standing up, this seated version is slightly easier. From your seated position, slowly bend your body forward while resting your chest on your legs. Try to reach the floor as much as you can but only up to a point that you are comfortable with. While in this pose, take a few deep breaths before going back up to your seated position.
10. Side Angle or Side Stretch
You can do this side stretch while you are in your forward bend pose. From the forward bend, rotate your entire body to the right while raising your right arm towards the ceiling. Try to keep your left hand planted toward your feet as much as possible while stretching your chest toward the right side of your body. Return to the forward bend position and then repeat with the left side. Remember to stretch only to a point that is comfortable for you, do not overstretch your body.
11. Leg Lift
This pose is a very versatile pose because you can combine this with a few of the other poses we have put on this list. While in the mountain pose on the front half of your chair, raise your left leg so that it’s parallel to the ground. Hold this pose for a few seconds before lowering and then repeating the move with the right leg. Combine this pose with things like the side twist or the sun salutation pose for a more intense stretch or exercise. This exercise is great chair yoga for seniors, combining simplicity and flexibility.
12. Eagle Pose
It is a bit hard to keep your balance with the standard eagle pose but with this version, both seniors and beginners can do this with ease. While in your mountain pose, wrap your left arm around your right arm and your left leg around your right leg. If you are able, try to interlock your fingers together but again, only do it to a point that is comfortable for you.
13. Warrior 2 Pose
Probably the most complex pose on our list, this one is for those who are ready for more advanced chair yoga. The chair version of the Warrior 2 pose can make it easier to do and keep upright. Starting from a mountain pose, bend your right leg to the right side while stretching out your left leg to the left and extending both arms outward. Push on the ground with your left foot and stretch as much as possible. Use the seat for support and balance.
Yoga is an exciting and versatile exercise that can greatly enhance the mobility of people of all ages. Even at retirement age, keeping fit and flexible should be a priority. Yoga doesn’t have to be intimidating or difficult and with this list, you can do this in the comfort of your home. Chair yoga can be a great way of improving not just your breathing but also your flexibility and, hopefully, add some more youthful energy to your body.
Have we missed any poses that you think should be part of this list? Discuss in the comments section below.