This guide to chair yoga for seniors showcases some excellent videos anyone can do. Even 15-minute sessions for beginners can benefit the body and energize the spirit. You’ll learn different poses, stretches, breathing techniques, and helpful tips.
We’ve included 4 different videos to get you started:
- Seniors Get Moving with Sherry Zak Morris – Energizing Chair Yoga
- Yoga With Kassandra – Gentle Chair Yoga for Beginners and Seniors
- 15 Minute Gentle Chair Yoga by Senior Shape Fitness
- Chair Yoga Fitness for Beginners and Seniors – Outdoors
For seniors and those with injuries or mobility issues, chair yoga can be the perfect solution to the problem of getting enough physical exercise for optimum health.
If you’re dealing with an injury, recovering from surgery, or have balance, mobility, weight, or strength issues and find exercising on your feet regularly just impossible, you’re certainly not alone. As HelpGuide.org points out, we should still make sure to keep exercising while considering our limitations. Chair yoga for seniors provides needed exercise and muscle strengthening and can be fun!
What Are The Benefits Of Chair Yoga For Older Adults?
Senior care facilities often mention the many benefits of chair yoga. These include:
- Pain Reduction/Management – The breathing techniques and skills of relaxing the body taught in yoga can help people reduce and manage pain. The National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health notes that researchers found that yoga may aid in chronic pain reduction, especially in the lower back and neck. The research also suggests that yoga may relieve stress and depression and reduce the severity of menopause symptoms.
- Increasing Strength and Flexibility – Johns Hopkins Medicine explains that holding yoga poses can build muscle, while the combination of steady breathing and movement increases blood flow in the body.
- Improving Sleep Quality – Yoga, including chair yoga, is considered conducive to better sleep like most forms of exercise. Since chair yoga may help relieve pain for seniors, it might help them fall asleep easier and stay asleep longer. Harvard Medical School emphasizes the importance of breathing in calming and relaxing the body during the movements as favorable for promoting sleepiness.
4 Fun Chair Yoga for Seniors Videos
When it’s time to feel more energized and get some exercise without overtaxing the body, chair yoga is a perfect solution. We’ve gathered four fantastic chair yoga videos suitable for older adults and complete beginners. You can adjust the moves to your fitness and flexibility level and learn some basic yoga poses.
1. Seniors Get Moving with Sherry Zak Morris – Energizing Chair Yoga
You can easily follow Sherry’s senior chair yoga class even if you’ve never done yoga before. The pace is slow enough to master the poses quickly. Sherry’s voice is warm and encouraging, and the subtle, soft background music adds a nice ambiance.
What better way to start chair yoga than by hugging yourself? This flows into side-to-side stretching before the arm reaches get into full swing. With some deep breaths, the leg and arm stretches lead into a forward fold to the floor.
Sherry gets off the chair to make some standing Warrior moves beside the chair. The activities aren’t strenuous, and some arm push-offs from the back of the chair are included as modified push-ups to strengthen the arms. The upright portion ends with a peaceful Tree pose.
The next section of this chair yoga for seniors video returns to sitting on the chair seat, focusing on improving flexibility. After some fun, floppy shoulder shakes and more little stretches in the arms and legs, Sherry brings out a yoga belt and puts it under her feet. You can substitute a bathrobe belt.
Sherry does a straight-legged stretch that she says is great for everyone – even those who’ve had knee replacement surgery. The stretch includes some deep breathing.
The Goddess position is next, followed by a leg spread twist she calls Windshield Wipers. After some energetic foot-stomping to help increase circulation and some finger wiggles, the video ends with the classic and restful Shavasana (Sanskrit for “corpse pose”).
2. Yoga With Kassandra – Gentle Chair Yoga for Beginners and Seniors
Kassandra says this video is for “absolutely everybody” – beginners of any age, even those with limited mobility or recovering from an injury.
Good posture and cleansing breaths ease you into small neck circles. Easy arm extensions are next, with an option for extra stretches. Then lots of small gentle stretches, including the Cat Cow pose, keep you moving. Next, you move to one side of the chair and bend towards the floor to stretch in the seated version of the standing Ragdoll pose.
Facing forward, it’s time for ankle rolls and holding up the knee for those who can. The first part of this chair yoga is wrapped up with hamstring leg stretches, more ankle rolls, the Goddess pose, and a few body twists.
The seated version of the Warrior 2 pose is featured mid-video. Kassandra notes this is a good one to keep working on more at your own pace to build strength.
Folding the body with one leg up is done to help relieve tension, Kassandra says. She gives you an option to do more folds or stay still.
After just a few smooth twists, it’s time for Shavasana with cleansing breaths. “Namaste,” Kassandra bids you as her yoga class ends.
3. 15 Minute Gentle Chair Yoga by Senior Shape Fitness
Lauren starts this chair yoga for seniors video by saying this isn’t a “push yourself” workout. The focus is more on relaxing stretches, gaining flexibility, and “feeling good about yourself.” She says everyone should do what they can easily do, and “you do you” is how she puts it.
Deep cleansing breaths start the yoga session before going into a seated Cat and Cow pose. Lauren takes you into the seated version of the Cactus pose by working with the palms and elbows.
There are many stretchy arm movements; then it’s time for the Eagle pose with the arms flowing, trying to meet the palms together. Breathing is done throughout, but it’s easy to keep up with Lauren.
Lauren leads you into some simple spinal twists after gentle side bends with an arm straight up. You can grasp the chair for support if you need it. Next, some wide-open arm and leg body stretches with inhaling and exhaling seem relaxing. Lauren advises “keep your core engaged” and reminds you to move how you can.
Knee-hugging starts off the middle part of this chair yoga video. Lauren does knee crosses while breathing deeply and adds that you can do ankle crosses if that isn’t comfortable.
“Belly button to the spine” is the position to try for before the moves go into forward folds with the hands dropped.
After some wide leg and arm front fold moves, Lauren does some sitting shoulder stretches while deep breathing. Chin to chest stretches and neck rolls slow things down nicely. Your calf muscles will get some flexing by moving your ankles on tiptoes. “Nice work,” Lauren says positively before a few final big arm stretches and a reminder to try to have a straight body posture throughout the day.
4. Chair Yoga Fitness for Beginners and Seniors – Outdoors
This chair yoga for seniors video is a bit different from the others here as it’s done outdoors, adding a nice pace change. But, of course, you can do this in the comfort of your own living room. The movements in this one also tend to be somewhat faster than in the other videos, so we saved it for last.
Cathy begins with quick arm movements and breathing before going into some high wrap twists. After a small Prayer Sun pose, Cathy launches into some standing yoga done beside the chair.
With one hand on the chair back for better support, Cathy goes into a modified Warrior position, then bows forward into a Power Warrior stance. The movements are slow here, with some breathing and knee bends. A low Goddess position is repeated after some elbow moves.
Depending on your flexibility, Cathy says you can bring your arms as far to the floor while in the squatting Goddess pose as is comfortable. Next, a Crescent pose is followed by fast arm movements and a steady airplane arm stance.
With more Crescent moves and deep knee bends, Cathy says move how you flexibly can. There are more arm movements and stretches before it’s time for a Tree pose.
More sweeping leg moves precede a forward “Stork” leg before a version of the Warrior 3 pose where you can certainly hold onto the top of the chair. It looks challenging but fun to maintain deep breathing while alternating between stork legs and Warrior 3.
Leg pulses with your hand on the top of the chair are followed by some Tree variations with more stork legs and Warrior 3 moves. One-inch knee pulses and some leg pulses are added before a standing Figure 4 stretch where you can hang onto the chair for balance.
Back onto the chair seat, Cathy does some open leg stretches with deep breaths. Sweeping arms and chest-to-thigh stretches follow this. Leg extensions with breathing are next, and Cathy says this move can be different for everyone. Cathy does the seated Cat and Cow several times.
Breathing and elbow bends with leg crosses follow, and Cathy again reminds you to do this to your comfort level. A rush of Prayer hands, breathing, and more leg crosses ending in a forward bow happens, and the video is almost done.
With closed eyes and deep breaths, Cathy says to find your inner calm and reflect on your chair yoga practice. “Namaste,” she says respectfully.
Keeping It Going
Now that you’ve learned about chair yoga for seniors, and hopefully, you and your parent have tried out a few poses and a video or two, you may want to seek more advanced or energetic videos. Of course, you don’t have to, as the great thing about yoga is that you can adjust it to your comfort level and interests.
For tracking an older adult’s exercise sessions, such as chair yoga, WayWiser can help you share the information and progress with health care providers and family.