Do you face the difficulty of bending down and tying your shoelaces? Does getting up from a chair seem daunting? If your answer is yes, you need a good yoga form that could replenish your energy and help you get fit (1). You may wonder how you could make all those seemingly complicated yoga moves. The good news is that you can do yoga while sitting in the comfort of your chair and still make immense mobility gains. Chair yoga is becoming increasingly popular in fitness circles. Do you wish to know more? Read on to learn more about the benefits of chair yoga, its poses, and how you can become healthy and active without much hassle.
What Are The Benefits Of Chair Yoga?
When asked to picture yoga, most people think of it as putting one’s body through complex moves and finishing by balancing their body on a single foot. That however, is not the entire case.
There are other alternatives to traditional yoga that require simpler and easier moves. Many people don’t have the time to hit the gym. As for others, lifting weights isn’t just the right option for them.
For such people, yoga is miraculous since it requires just their bodies. And chair yoga might be the holy-grail solution for those who can’t twist their body due to immobility, stiffness, or balance issues.
Chair yoga is a modified and simpler form of standard yoga, done while sitting on a chair. It could bring the same health benefits as traditional yoga and is more easily practiced by seniors and those with a physical disability.
The best aspect of chair yoga is that it can be easily modified and adapted according to individual needs. Listed below are some of the top-notch health benefits of chair yoga.
Improves Flexibility And Mobility
Perhaps, the most significant health benefit of yoga is improving overall flexibility. A 2019 study found that yoga massively enhances flexibility in older adults (2). As we age, our joints may start stiffening, and we lose mobility.
The lack of exercise and following a sedentary lifestyle makes doing basic chores, like climbing the stairs, difficult. For that, chair yoga may help to restore mobility and make us flexible.
Also, many older adults are at risk of falling over. Data reveals that about 3 million old adults experience fall-related injuries every year. Performing chair yoga may help them maintain their balance and prevent them from tripping over (3).
While many people link yoga with flexibility, it does much more than enhance mobility. In fact, chair yoga can help improve upper body strength and build muscles.
This could be more effective in older adults as muscle mass declines rapidly with age. Greater muscle mass helps burn calories and increases bone density (2).
Boosts Mental Wellbeing
The feelings of happiness and relaxation that come with yoga have no parallel. Focusing on breathing and imagining stress leaving your body with every breath creates a feeling of relaxation.
In addition to improving flexibility and building strength, doing chair yoga may relieve stress and cure anxiety. Hectic daily work routines can be stressful for many.
Overdoing it and taking minimal rests leads to burnout and depression. In such cases, doing yoga can be relaxing. Study reveals that yoga relieves stress, anxiety, and depression in women (4).
The benefits of yoga in a chair are not just limited to mobility. They also cover chronic illnesses, including type II diabetes, arthritis, and hypertension. A study revealed that a group of people following a 10-minute chair yoga routine experienced significant improvement in their blood sugar, blood pressure, and heart rate within three months (5).
Chair yoga is also an excellent painkiller. Our bodies produce endorphins when working out, acting as the body’s natural painkillers. Since chair yoga includes gentle movement and deep breathing, it may relieve discomfort and reduce pain significantly. One study revealed that performing chair yoga relieves osteoarthritis pain in older adults (6).
Induces Better Sleep
Since yoga relieves stress and fatigue, it creates a feeling of relaxation. This, in turn, improves sleep quality and makes it easier for older individuals to fall asleep easily.
Is Chair Yoga Beneficial?
Chair yoga is highly beneficial as it offers multiple health benefits while seated on a chair. From improving flexibility and mobility to boosting mood, there is so much more than an individual could experience from working out while seated.
By now, you must be thinking about how to do chair yoga and make the most of it. We have listed the best chair yoga exercises to supercharge your health and the benefits of seated poses in yoga.
Starting the list with the basic and easy chair yoga pose for beginners – The Warrior I pose or the Virabhadrasana I. This engages your shoulders, arms, and hands.
- Grab a seat and sit on it firmly with your feet planted on the ground. Be sure your arms are at your sides.
- Inhale and lift the arms and pull them over your head.
- Interlace your fingers above your head so that your thumb and index fingers point toward the ceiling.
- Exhale and open your fingers to return your arms to the starting position. Repeat this motion a few times.
Chair Forward Fold Pose
Next on the list with the basic and easy chair yoga pose for beginners – The Chair Forward Fold. This has been known to improve flexibility by stretching the lower back and legs. It may also help older adults get up from their chairs and walk easily.
- Get a chair and sit on it with your legs bent at a 90-degree angle, your feet placed firmly on the ground, and your arms hanging by your sides in a straight line. Be sure you are not hunched over.
- Exhale and gradually lean forward towards the floor. As such, your core extends towards your lap.
- Be sure your hands move towards the floor to feel the stretch. It is not necessary to touch the floor. The purpose is to extend your body as much as you can.
- Inhale and return to the starting position. Repeat this pose for a few minutes.
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Chair Twist Pose
You may have seen yoga practitioners twist their bodies in a complicated manner. While it may seem difficult, it is easier on a chair. The chair twist may relieve lower back pain and enhance flexibility.
- Grab a chair and sit on it in an upright position with your legs bent at a 90-degree angle.
- Inhale and slowly twist your body to the right. You may grab the back of the chair for support.
- Keep this position for a few seconds and repeat this pose for the other side.
- Performing chair twists regularly will not only improve flexibility but will also reduce your lower back pain.
Downward Dog With Chair Pose
The downward dog pose may enhance your flexibility and work out your shoulders. To perform chair downward dog:
- Take a chair and face the chair while standing in an upright manner.
- Lean forward and bend your body to place your palms on the chair’s seat.
- You will feel a stretch in your back. Hold this position for a while and then return to the starting position.
Seated Cat Cow Pose With Chair Pose
The cat-cow pose is a pretty popular yoga pose that enhances flexibility and mobility. The pose is named after the moves replicating those of the cat and cow.
To perform the Seated Cat-Cow Pose with Chair, do the following:
- Sit on the chair with your palms placed on your thighs.
- Inhale and round your upper body so that your shoulders are hunched forward, your belly is pushed towards your spine, and your head towards your chest. This pose is the cat pose.
- Exhale and return to the original position with your back arched, your chest protruding forward, and your head facing the ceiling. This is the cow pose.
- Repeat this movement for a few minutes.
Chair Pigeon Pose
Chair pigeon pose may enhance endurance and mobility in the lower back. It is also known as the hip opener and performs the yoga pose:
- Sit on the chair comfortably with your right ankle on your left knee. Lean forward a bit.
- Inhale and lean back to get into an upright position. Exhale and flex your foot. You will feel a stretch in your body.
- You can increase the intensity by exerting pressure on your right knee by placing your right hand on the knee. Repeat the same for the other knee.
Single-Leg Stretch Pose
If you want to improve flexibility in your legs, then the Single-Leg Stretch Pose is ideal for you.
- Sit on the edge of the chair with your left foot placed ahead of your right foot.
- Extend your left leg and lift your left arm and extend it forward until you feel a stretch in your left leg.
- Repeat this exercise for the right leg.
Read More: Can You Use Chair Yoga For Weight Loss?
Seated Chest Opener Pose
The next chair yoga pose may be beneficial for improving upper body flexibility. To perform this pose,
- Grab a chair and sit on the edge of the chair.
- Interlace your hands behind your back with you looking forward.
- Inhale and lift your interlaced hands upward to form a straight line with your chest. Extend your chin forward.
- Exhale and lower arms downward, and repeat this pose a few times.
Remember to take deep breaths with your body movement and focus on the breath leaving your body. This helps you relax and wind down.
Is Chair Yoga Effective?
Chair yoga has proven effective in improving flexibility, enhancing mobility, and reducing pain.
A study revealed that individuals with Alzheimer’s, following a chair yoga routine, experienced positive improvements in the Six-Minute Walk Test, the Gait Speed Test, and various other physical fitness tests (7).
This shows chair yoga significantly improves physical fitness, mobility, and endurance. Here are some other health benefits of chair yoga for seniors.
Many obese individuals and people with physical disabilities experience low self-esteem. For such people, chair yoga can be pretty beneficial as they don’t have to go out where they feel awkward or judged. All they have to do is to grab a chair and perform a series of basic yoga poses. Doing seated yoga poses improves flexibility, builds strength, and, most importantly, boosts a person’s self-esteem.
The feeling of accomplishment and the relaxation of systematic breathing alleviates anxiety and makes one feel good about themselves (8).
Improves Body Posture
Most of our time is spent hunching over and focusing too much on our screens. Doing seated yoga poses like the Seated Chest Opener may improve our posture by straightening our backs and physique.
Chair yoga may also relieve inflammation caused by chronic diseases such as Crohn’s, arthritis, or diabetes. And as it alleviates inflammation, the movements also boosts immunity and prevents you from developing chronic illnesses.
Our immune system is hugely compromised when we age, and we tend to get multiple diseases more often due to weak immunity. Doing chair yoga works wonders for our immune system and makes us healthy.
Improves Brain Functioning
Human attention, concentration, learning, and memory functions tend to decline as we age. Science proves that doing physical exercises like yoga improves blood flow towards the brain and improves mind-body coordination.
Ability To Socialize
Last but not least, joining chair yoga classes helps individuals learn they are not alone in this journey. Attending classes with people with similar issues builds confidence and enhances your self-esteem.
Working out in a group motivates individuals to keep going and experience low anxiety.
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Who Is Chair Yoga Good For?
Seated yoga reaps the health benefits of chair yoga for everyone. Almost everyone could benefit from such exercises as they can be done at home, from young adults to older people.
Individuals on wheelchairs or recovering from surgeries can benefit greatly from chair yoga. Many people who hesitate to do yoga on a mat due to instability or balance issues can adopt a chair yoga practice. Also, it can be incorporated as a quick workout while traveling or added into a regular workout routine. Whatever the case, chair yoga makes everyone healthy.
Here is a list of some individuals who could benefit the most from chair yoga.
Seniors Over 65
As we age, our bodies go through some important changes. Our bones become weaker, our muscles lose strength, and we become more prone to falling. Our immune system may also become less effective in fighting off illnesses. Benefits of chair yoga for the elderly have compelled medical experts to explore its potential.
Engaging in chair yoga regularly improves our ability to move around, strengthen our muscles, and enhance our balance. This, in turn, reduces the risk of falling and getting hurt (2).
In addition, chair yoga contributes to healthy aging by supporting our overall wellbeing. It makes our everyday lives easier, allowing us to navigate the later stages of life more comfortably and joyfully.
Individuals With Chronic Illnesses
As mentioned above, chair yoga benefits people with chronic illnesses like hypertension, Alzheimer’s, and diabetes (7). It may also help people with mental health conditions such as anxiety and depression.
Individuals With Mobility Issues
Many people experience limited mobility due to joint or muscle issues, such as multiple sclerosis or spine injuries. Practicing chair yoga is helpful for such individuals, and they should make it an active part of their life (9).
Individuals Who Sit For An Extended Time
People who work remotely or spend hours hunched over a screen often experience lower back pain and bad posture. Chair yoga may allow them to fix their posture and alleviate lower back pain.
How Often Should You Do Chair Yoga?
Chair yoga must be incorporated into our daily routines as it offers many health benefits without any harm. Due to its simplicity and ease of use, it can be done virtually everywhere.
But if you have just started, jumping quickly into doing strenuous yoga daily might not be as effective and may cause you to become stressed.
Ideally, it would help if you started slow with basic chair yoga poses and gradually increase the duration once you become habituated. CDC recommends doing chair yoga two to three times a week for senior adults. Senior adults aged 65 and above should get at least two strengthening days and three balance activities (10).
As such, they should do chair yoga more often as it offers many health benefits for older people and maybe the easiest exercise for them as it massively enhances flexibility and mobility without any hassle.
The Bottom Line
Chair yoga is a great and simple type of yoga with many health benefits. It helps with things like moving better, getting stronger, becoming more flexible, and managing pain. Both adults and older folks, especially those 65 years or older, can benefit from it.
But before starting any yoga, it’s important to talk to your doctor first. Once you have the green light, you can make it a regular part of your day and enjoy the benefits of chair yoga. You’ll be amazed at how it can work its magic and improve your health and overall well-being. Knowing this, hop on that chair and embark on a wonderful journey toward better health!
This article is intended for general informational purposes only and does not address individual circumstances. It is not a substitute for professional advice or help and should not be relied on to make decisions of any kind. Any action you take upon the information presented in this article is strictly at your own risk and responsibility!
- The Health Benefits of Yoga (2022, webmd.com)
- The effects of yoga compared to active and inactive controls on physical function and health related quality of life in older adults- systematic review and meta-analysis of randomised controlled trials (2019, cbi.nlm.nih.gov)
- Facts About Falls (n.d., cdc.gov)
- The Effect of Yoga on Stress, Anxiety, and Depression in Women (2018, ncbi.nlm.nih.gov)
- Impact of a 10 minute Seated Yoga Practice in the Management of Diabetes (2016, ncbi.nlm.nih.gov)
- Osteoarthritis (2021, goodrx.com)
- The effect of chair yoga in older adults with moderate and severe Alzheimer’s disease (2014, pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov)
- Yoga and body image: How do young adults practicing yoga describe its impact on their body image? (2018, pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov)
- Mindfulness in Motion for People with Multiple Sclerosis: A Feasibility Study (2017, meridian.allenpress.com)
- How much physical activity do older adults need? (n.d., cdc.gov)