Staying active as we age is incredibly important for both our physical and mental health. With aging comes changes in mobility, however, and we often find that we can’t move around as easily as we did in our younger days. If you’re looking for a fun way for your senior loved ones to exercise, but need to keep their mobility level in mind, we recommend trying chair yoga.
Yoga has a huge range of health benefits for people of all ages, but some of the poses and movements in traditional yoga can be difficult for people with limited mobility and other physical restrictions. Chair yoga is a great alternative to traditional yoga, and it offers many of the same benefits while being safer and more inclusive for older adults or those with limited mobility.
The Benefits of Yoga for Seniors
You may hear the word “yoga” and conjure up images of people doing headstands or full splits, but there are yoga classes for all ability levels. There are even yoga classes specially designed for senior beginners. Yoga has many benefits for seniors, including:
- Improved balance. Keeping a good sense of balance as we age is so important, especially for seniors who have a greater risk of falling. Having a fall can result in serious injuries like broken bones, and if they fall when they’re home alone, it’s even more dangerous.
- Increased flexibility and strength. Seniors who are sedentary are at risk for muscle loss, and we all tend to become less flexible as we age.
- Strengthened bones. Yoga has been shown to prevent the onset of osteoporosis, helping seniors combat weak and brittle bones.
- Improved sleep habits. It’s essential that we get enough sleep every night, especially for seniors.
- Alleviates aches and pains. We’ve all got a little ache somewhere, maybe in your shoulder or your knee.
Chair Yoga for Seniors
If your senior loved one isn’t able to participate in a traditional yoga class, don’t worry! Chair yoga can be customized to their mobility level and still provides many amazing benefits. Here are some of our favorite poses and movements you’ll find in a chair yoga class for seniors:
Warm up with gentle arm circles: While sitting upright in a chair, keep the arms straight and move them slowly in full circles, both forwards and backwards, for a minute or two. This warms up the shoulder joints and gets the blood flowing.
Cat-cow stretch: While seated, place the feet flat on the floor and your hands on your knees. Inhale, arch your spine, and roll your shoulders down and back – this is called cow position. Hold for a few seconds, then exhale while rounding your spine, drop your chin down to your chest, allowing the head to fall forward freely – this is cat position. Move between cat and cow several times and be mindful of your breathing.
Forward bend: Sit upright and keep your spine straight. When you exhale, bend at the waist, keeping your back straight, and hinge forward towards the floor as far as you can. Put your hands out in front of you towards the floor, and let your head hang freely.
Hamstring stretch: Using a towel or a strap, wrap it around the bottom of the foot and hold onto it while you straighten your leg as much as possible. You’ll feel a deep stretch in your hamstring, hold it for a few seconds before slowly releasing it.
If you have any questions about chair yoga for seniors, or if you have any other questions regarding our senior communities in NJ, please contact our team at United Methodist Communities today: https://umcommunities.org
This blog was originally published at https://umcommunities.org/blog/why-chair-yoga-is-a-great-idea-for-seniors/