Yoga is a highly beneficial practice. It can increase flexibility, build strength, perfect posture, and calm the mind (1). However, for seniors who have limited mobility, getting down on the floor to do traditional yoga poses can be difficult or even impossible. That’s where sofa yoga comes in! This type of yoga uses a sofa (or other piece of furniture) as a support to help seniors maintain balance and perform yoga poses with ease. Sofa yoga exercises are also ideal for seniors who are new to yoga or who have chronic pain or conditions such as arthritis (2). If you’re a senior and looking for a way to start practicing yoga, give sofa yoga a try! Below are five easy sofa yoga poses to get you started.
Pose 1: Seated Forward Bend (Paschimottanasana)
- Stretch your hamstrings and lengthen your spine with this simple seated forward bend.
- Start in a seated mountain pose—sit up tall on the edge of the sofa with your spine straight and your legs extended in front of you. Place your hands on your thighs for support.
- As you inhale, lengthen your spine. As you exhale, slowly lean forward from your hips, until your torso reaches your thighs.
- Take 5 deep breaths in this pose, then slowly return to seated mountain pose to release.
Pose 2: Single-Leg Stretch (Janu Sirsasana)
- This pose is great for lengthening your hamstrings and strengthening your back.
- Start in a seated position on the edge of the sofa, with your right leg extended straight in front of you and your left leg bent at a 90 degree angle and left foot flat on the ground.
- Place your left hand on your left thigh for support before reaching your right hand to your right ankle. Inhale and lengthen your spine. Exhale as you twist your torso to the right, looking over your right shoulder.
- Hold for 5 deep breaths before returning to center and repeating on the other side.
Pose 3: Seated Triangle Pose
The triangle pose is a great way to improve your balance and flexibility. It can also help relieve pain in the lower back, hips, and knees.
To do the triangle pose:
- Sit on the edge of a chair or sofa with your feet together.
- Place your hands on either side of your body, about shoulder-height.
- Slowly exhale and lean your torso to the right, sliding your right hand down your leg as you do.
- Inhale and return to the starting position.
- Repeat on the other side.
Pose 4: Seated Twist Pose
The seated twist pose is another great way to improve your flexibility and mobility. It targets the spine, shoulders, and hips.
To do the seated twist pose on the sofa:
- Sit on the edge of the sofa with your legs extended in front of you.
- Place your right hand on the back of the sofa, and twist your torso to the left.
- Use your left hand to hold onto your right knee, and pull it towards your chest.
- Hold the pose for 30 seconds, and then repeat on the other side.
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Pose 5: Seated Mountain
This basic pose will engage your core, improve your posture and encourage deep breathing. Deep breathing has numerous benefits, including reducing stress and improving circulation.
- Begin by sitting on the front edge of your sofa with your feet flat on the floor. You can place a pillow behind your lower back for support if needed.
- Take a deep breath in and as you exhale, engage your abs and press your spine straight. Imagine there is a string attached to the top of your head, pulling you tall.
- Rest your hands on your knees with your palms up.
- Take 5-10 deep breaths in this position. Relax your shoulders and jaw as you breathe.
How To Perform Sofa Yoga Exercises Safely
When performing sofa yoga exercises, seniors should observe the following safety guidelines:
- Use a firm, stable sofa. Avoid using a soft or plush sofa, as it may be difficult to maintain your balance.
- Choose simple poses to start with. As you become more comfortable with the practice, you can try more challenging poses.
- Listen to your body and avoid pain. If you feel pain while performing a pose, stop and rest.
- Use props if needed. If you have limited mobility, props can help you perform the poses safely. For example, you may use a pillow to support your back in the mountain pose.
- Avoid holding your breath. Remember to breathe deeply and slowly as you perform each pose.
Read More: Bikram Yoga Poses: The 26 Asanas Explained
The Bottom Line
When performed safely and with proper guidance, sofa yoga can be a great way for seniors to improve their flexibility, mobility, and overall health. If you’re interested in trying sofa yoga, be sure to consult with your doctor or a certified yoga instructor first.
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!
- Exploring the therapeutic effects of yoga and its ability to increase quality of life (2011, nih.gov)
- The Effect of Chair Yoga on Biopsychosocial Changes in English- and Spanish-Speaking Community-Dwelling Older Adults With Lower-Extremity Osteoarthritis (2016, nih.gov)