Yoga is a great activity at any age to help loosen and stretch your muscles, alleviate stress, and improve your general health. For older adults and those with certain health conditions, it can be a really effective way to help reduce pain, increase mobility and improve circulation. Yoga practice is also great for building strength and balance, strengthening bones and protecting joints, which becomes increasingly important as you get older.
By connecting mind and body, yoga is the original mindfulness activity. It requires you to be still, become conscious of your breathing and focus completely on what you are doing. As such, it helps to reduce blood pressure, alleviate stress and anxiety and keep you more alert. And these are just a few of the many benefits of yoga for elderly people.
So, if you are feeling less mobile and flexible than you once did, and are wondering what type of yoga is best for seniors, then read on to learn more, including our beginner’s guide to seated yoga poses.
Can you do yoga sitting in a chair?
Yes, you can. And research shows that it is just as effective as other forms of yoga. Seated yoga allows you to enjoy all the health benefits of yoga in a more stable and supportive way, which is why it is a particularly favourable form of yoga for elderly people.
If you prefer group activity, you could ask around for any classes locally. However, the great thing about chair yoga is that it can be just as easily enjoyed from the comfort of your own home. There are plenty of instructional videos on yoga for elderly people available online to help get you started – and check out our guide to some of the most popular seated yoga poses below.
Who is chair yoga good for?
Seated yoga poses are not only beneficial for elderly people, but anyone with reduced mobility, balance issues, chronic pain, or those simply looking for a low-impact workout. Even those who sit at a desk all day will benefit from doing some seated yoga stretches in their chair.
9 seated yoga poses to try
Whether you are a complete beginner and have never tried yoga before, or you already know your asanas from your chakras but are looking for ways to adapt your yoga practice as you get older, here are 9 yoga poses you can do in a chair to get you started:
- Warm up: Upward Salute (Urdhva Hastasana)
- To begin your seated yoga routine, sit tall on the chair with your back straight, and your feet resting flat on the floor about hip width apart
- Raise your hands high above your head and place your palms together, elbows slightly bent
- Hold for 30 seconds as you breathe slowly and deeply
- Relax your arms down and repeat
- Seated Raised Hands Pose (Tadasana Urdhva Hastasana)
- As you exhale, raise your hands high above your head with your palms shoulder width apart and your arms straight and parallel
- Relax your arms down as you inhale, and repeat
- Seated Forward Bend (Paschimottanasana)
- With your feet resting flat on the floor, bend forward from your waist
- Touch your feet or the floor with your hands if you can, and let your head hang heavy
- Hold for 30 seconds and then repeat 3 more times
- Simple Seated Twist (Parivrtta Sukhasana)
- Keeping your feet flat on the floor and your knees pointing forward, gently twist your upper body round from the waist to one side as far your body will let you
- Twist your head and neck the same way as your body and look over your shoulder
- Hold on to the back of the chair for support and to enhance the stretch
- Hold for 30 seconds
- Exhale back to face front and then repeat on the other side
- Seated Warrior I (Virabhadrasana I)
- Start with your feet flat on the floor, hip-width apart, arms resting on your thighs
- As you inhale, lift your arms out to the sides and up over your head so that your palms meet and your fingers interlock
- Exhale as you slowly bring your arms back down, stretched out to the sides
- Repeat 3 times
- Chair Cat-Cow Stretch (Chakravakasana)
- Start off with your back upright, hands resting on your thighs and your feet flat on the floor
- As you exhale, gently arch your back as you lean forward from the waist, tucking your chin into your chest (Cat pose)
- Then, as you inhale, move your tummy forward and your head back to gently arch your back the opposite way (Cow pose)
- Repeat each pose 3 times, exhaling into cat and exhaling into cow
- Star Pose (Tarasana)
- Raise your legs up and wide, keeping your knees straight
- At the same time, lift your arms up and outwards, elbows straight, to form a ‘star’ shape
- Hold for 30 seconds and repeat three more times
- Chair Pigeon (Eka Pada Rajakapotasana)
- Place one ankle on the opposite knee (with the other foot remaining flat on the floor)
- Bend forward gently from the waist and breathe
- Hold for 30 seconds, then repeat on the other side
- Final Relaxation: Chair Savasana
- Sit with your back up straight, feet planted firmly on the floor, arms and shoulders relaxed and your hands in your lap
- Close your eyes and take some deep breaths to complete your seated yoga workout
As our bodies get older, aches and pains can increasingly become part of everyday life, muscles stiffen and mobility can become reduced. Where our minds may still be very much active, our bodies can struggle to keep up.
The NHS recommends that adults aged 65 and over should aim to be physically active every day, and do activities that improve strength, balance and flexibility on at least 2 days a week. That’s why seated yoga can be a worthwhile addition to your weekly or daily routine. You can read more about yoga for elderly people on the NHS website.
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