• By: Allen Brown

The benefits of chair yoga for seniors

Staying fit and active is important whatever your age and wherever you are in Canada. Living in the Ottawa area means you likely enjoy numerous ways to stay active — from walking the Rideau Canal to taking in the fabulous architecture on a long walk down Sparks Street.

But for seniors who suffer from mobility issues, it can be difficult to get outside, especially during the colder months leading up to summer. Luckily, if you’re a senior, you can enjoy the health benefits of exercise without even leaving your front door thanks to the wonders of chair yoga.

Chair yoga has become increasingly popular amongst people young and old, but it was originally created specifically for seniors and those with mobility issues. It gives many of the same mental and physical health benefits associated with regular yoga, while being an easy and gentle form of exercise. For seniors, though, chair yoga is an especially useful form of exercise, and here are a few reasons why.

What Are the Physical Benefits?

The gentle movements of chair yoga help you to maintain, and even to improve, your flexibility. Common chair yoga movements stretch out your legs, back, and upper body, making it easier for you to access your body’s full range of motion. If you are wheelchair-bound or tend to sit for long periods of time, modified chair yoga positions can even help you to prevent blood clots that can form when you are immobile for long periods of time.

What are the Positive Mental Effects?

Chair yoga doesn’t just have physical benefits. It has many mental benefits as well. Chair yoga, like most forms of physical exercise, can help you boost your mood by releasing endorphins and dopamine — also known as your body’s natural feel-good chemicals. As a result, your levels of stress are lowered, as well.

I Practice Chair Yoga Alone?

Absolutely! Chair yoga is a great group or solo activity. To get yourself started, make sure that you are using a good, sturdy chair that can take your weight, no matter how you position yourself. As well, make sure that you’re not using an office chair with wheels on the bottom; you want the chair to be stable on the ground. Wear clothes that you can easily move around in, and keep a water bottle nearby to stay hydrated.

You can carefully follow instructions on how to execute various chair yoga poses using online articles, or better yet, by watching online videos. Make sure to listen to your body to prevent injury; don’t stretch further than you’re comfortable with, and don’t hold a pose for longer than your body can handle.

What if I Need Assistance?

If you need assistance, you can join chair yoga classes, where an instructor can walk you through the poses. The right seniors residence in Ottawa will offer these classes — just talk to the activity director to see if there are any coming up!

Class instructors are often very familiar with the mobility limitations of seniors and can walk you through any particularly challenging stretches. They will also be able to help you prevent injuries, while making sure you still get all the benefits of practicing chair yoga.

If you’re looking to jump start your spring activity levels, consider the benefits of chair yoga. Yoga not only helps strengthen your body, but it also helps you to boost your powers of concentration, which can stave off Alzheimer’s and Dementia.

Hopefully, you’ll be motivated to get started today. Namaste!

Photo: Marcus Aurelius, Pexels