We’ve written in the past about why yoga and seated exercise can be excellent for older people and people with mobility problems. Sometimes “easy” workouts aren’t designed for people with mobility issues or at higher risk for a fall. We like seated exercise because it’s a way of working out that lowers the danger of falling. And, we appreciate yoga for the way it aids flexibility, breathing, mental and physical health and reduces pain. When you combine the two, you can get the best of both worlds.
As always, when making a change in your routine, you should speak to your doctor. While chair yoga is a gentle form of exercise, you want to be sure it’s right for you. There are videos of chair yoga classes online for free that you can watch on YouTube. You can learn it at your own speed. If you prefer to learn from pictures, there is an excellent infographic of chair yoga positions you can check out. When you speak to your doctor, ask if these YouTube videos and infographic are enough for you or if you should enroll in a class. If you have specific medical needs, a course may be better. If you have any balance concerns or are prone to falls, it’s better to have a person nearby when you first try chair yoga, just in case you have a problem.
Like all chair exercises, you will need an armless, stable chair and space to extend your limbs. If your feet don’t touch the ground, you will need a book or box. Your feet should be flat on the floor for most exercises. Other than that, you don’t need any equipment. It is low impact on joints but can improve your flexibility, balance, stress levels, pain management, mood and circulation. Studies have found it also helps anxiety and PTSD, lowers inflammation and slows the progression of heart disease. It also improves walking speed.
Some people might question if chair yoga is “hard enough” to have an impact. But the great thing about chair yoga is that it’s gentle enough that you can do it every day and see a result. Unlike a strenuous workout that might leave you “feeling the burn,” something gentler like this builds up without tiring you out. You won’t hurt, but you will find yourself stretching more easily, moving more quickly and standing more surely. Our team is all about finding solutions that we can fit into our lives. A little seated yoga is a lot easier to fit into the day than a longer walk outdoors. And, we’re a lot more likely to stick to it than an exercise we don’t enjoy!
Many senior centers offer chair yoga classes, there are classes online. Speak to your doctor about your health concerns before you start, and you can decide what the best way to learn would be for you.