What is Chair Yoga?
It’s not uncommon to be wary of rigorous exercise as we age, as many seniors feel that they simply no longer have the physical ability they did in their youth or that the commitment to a regular fitness routine may be too overwhelming. Though there have been studies that show the concept of senior exercise may not be as black and white as that, it can still be beneficial for older adults to feel as comfortable as possible when it comes to staying fit. That’s where innovative exercise routines, such as chair yoga, come in.
Put simply, chair yoga is a great way for seniors to get all the fantastic health benefits of traditional yoga, without the unnecessary strain on certain body parts and less of a need for self-reliant balance and durability.
This unique form of yoga allows one to stay seated (hence the “chair” terminology) while completing a fully-fleshed out yoga routine that explores the same paths to increased balance, flexibility, durability, strength, and mindfulness that traditional yoga routines emphasize.
But is chair yoga really as effective as regular yoga? Courtesy of our friends at MedicareInsurance.com, here is an in-depth look at how chair yoga may actually be a fantastic option for seniors to stay in shape.
The Benefits of Chair Yoga
While doing yoga, staying seated can help frail seniors, and those who are as flexible as they may have once been, experience a full exercise routine in a safe and simple manner. For older adults, chair yoga can help relieve chronic pain and improve circulation.
Additionally, many older chair yoga enthusiasts report that the routine can also help reduce stress and improve their overall mental wellness. It has also been shown to lower anxiety and improve blood pressure and balance.
A 2017 study published in The Journal of Geriatrics found that chair yoga participants with osteoarthritis who took a 45-minute chair yoga class twice a week for eight weeks experienced a statistically significant reduction in pain and pain’s interference with daily activities. They also saw improvement in walking speed. These improvements were sustained for three months after the study.
For seniors prone to falling, a small study in 2012 found that chair yoga reduced the risk of falls and also moderated the anxiety many seniors felt around falling. For older adults, falling is the leading cause of both fatal and non-fatal injury, with an estimated 50 percent of adults over 80 years of age falling annually. This study, and a previous study in 2010, indicates that chair yoga for seniors can help reduce the risk (and fear) of falling.
Another great aspect of a chair yoga routine is that it can be fully customized to meet the comfort level and physical needs of any individual. For example, some people may choose to skip or alter any movements that seem too difficult or too painful to perform.
How Can I Assure My Physical Safety While Performing Chair Yoga?
When attempting to perform a chair yoga routine for the first time, it’s important to keep in mind that none of these movements should hurt. It’s important to find a comfortable niche when it comes to exercising in your golden years. This means paying extra attention to how your body feels.
When attempting chair yoga exercises, make sure you are moving slowly and gently. Remember: it’s better to do a little less than to push yourself and risk injury.
Although you may only be doing a fraction of the exercise, you will still benefit from it. Over time, you will likely experience increased strength and flexibility, which will eventually allow you to push yourself further in a safe and constructive manner.
Getting Started With Chair Yoga
As stated earlier, one of the most vital benefits of chair yoga is its ability to be customized to meet a variety of different accessibility levels. Still, there are a few key things to keep in mind before embarking on any unfamiliar fitness journey:
- Talk with your doctor: Always check with your primary doctor before beginning any new exercise routine. While yoga is generally recognized as safe and effective for all fitness levels, it’s important to coordinate all treatments – including new exercise.
- Use props: Props can help make the poses below more accessible and comfortable when you are starting. A sturdy chair is the first prop to gather, but yoga blocks, a blanket, and a strap or belt can also help.
- Mind your balance: If you struggle with balance, make sure you have someone with you as you get started.
- Find a class: A simple Google search can help you locate a yoga studio near you. A qualified and experienced teacher can help you gain confidence and build a safe home practice. In fact, some Medicare Advantage plans may even include this coverage.
Those who practice chair yoga on a regular basis are almost sure to see some degree of benefit. Whether you are a senior who is looking to maintain a healthy physical condition, a person recovering from an injury, or someone with limited mobility, sitting yoga poses can help improve your spirit, mind, and body in a variety of ways.