Seniors face many health issues while trying to achieve physical and mental fitness. Chair yoga, one of the gentlest forms of yoga, has now come to their rescue. It is the ideal form of yoga for the elderly and the aging. It bestows many healing and restorative benefits upon you: relaxation of the body and mind, improving musculoskeletal fitness and flexibility, and elevates the overall health and well being. Start with simple poses, and gradually proceed to the complicated ones. There is no need to push yourself beyond your limits, as your limits would increase step by step by themselves. Some asanas or poses of chair yoga are the wind liberating pose, cow face pose, seated twist, pigeon pose, boat pose, hip openers, tiger stretch, and so on. Seniors, you can now get more in touch with yourself and lift your spirits, hence developing a positive and lively attitude towards life. Feel great emotionally and physically. Here are some of the basic chair yoga poses which are quite easy to perform.
Sit in the center of the chair.
Turn towards one side of the chair.
Grasp the back of the chair with your hand.
Move to the edge of the chair, allowing the hip to be free, such that part of your outside leg is off the chair seat.
Balance yourself, exhale, bringing your outside knee upwards towards your heart.
Bend your head forward, thus bringing your nose close to the knee.
Inhale, bringing the head back to its original position.
Grasp the back of the chair, releasing your outside foot.
Stretch the leg back for tiger stretch. The back leg should be up on the ball of the foot, and the front foot should be pressing into the floor.
Hold this pose, and always end on a stretch rather than a contraction.
Repeat the process on your next exhale for 5 times.
This pose starts showing its effects in a couple of weeks.
In case of sciatic nerve pain, the tiger stretch is very beneficial.
It is very effective in piriforma syndrome.
It reduces the stiffness of your calf and thigh muscles.
There are no side effects as such but you must consult your physician before practicing tiger stretch for sciatic pain, to avoid more pain. This is because sciatic pain may be caused by “classical sciatica”, which is not healed by the tiger stretch.
Cow face pose
Wrap both your hands behind your back; one from over your shoulder and the other from your side.
See if you can touch them; intertwine your fingers.
Keep your head straight.
If you have to bend your head forward in order to keep your hands in this position, ease up on your hands, but keeping your head straight is a must.
If you are not comfortable with this, slowly bring the arm from your side to the top of your shoulder and try touching the other elbow.
Exhale and inhale a few times and then switch between arms.
Repeat this 4-6 times. This pose would show its effects in 2-3 months.
Stretching the shoulders, armpits, chest, and triceps would relieve you of the stiffness in the joints.
It helps in opening the hip joints and releasing the energy of the kundalini.
The lower spine is also affected by this pose.
Be careful if you have sciatica, or lower back problems. Avoid this exercise in case of neck and shoulder problems.
Sit straight on your chair.
Twist to one side of the chair.
Inch your stomach forward as you hold your pose.
Repeat this for the other sides.
Avoid turning your head to the side before twisting your torso, as it would render your exercise incomplete. Repeat the cycle for 15-20 times slowly. This pose would start showing its effects within 5-6 months.
This pose gives you a healthy back.
It is very good for the spine and abdomen.
It is very easy to perform.
Keep your left foot on the floor firmly.
Slowly keep your right ankle on your left knee.
Keep your hands on your knees.
Bend forward, balancing some of your weight on your right wrist.
If this doesn’t hurt, you can bend further.
Stay in this pose for 10 deep breaths, and then switch.
This is also a hip opening exercise and has the same benefits as other hip openers.
It calms the nervous system.
It releases the energy trapped in the pelvic area.
It is an excellent exercise to make you stress free.
Do not practice this pose if it hurts, or if you have had any hip surgery. If it hurts at any point during performing the pose, then stop.
Seated in your chair, slowly draw your knees towards your heart.
Raise both your arms to your side.
Bring the arms together, stretched straight forward from your chest.
Release your feet, keeping them on the floor.
Counter stretch forward, touching your feet with your hands. Release the tension from your neck and shoulders.
Sweep your arms overhead. Breathe.
Now bring your arms down to the side of the chair.
Repeat this process 5 to 10 times.
Even if your feet are 1 inch from the floor, you still get the benefits of the pose. Hence it is very easy to perform.
It relaxes your hips, knees, calves, thighs, and arms.
Forward bend (uttanasana)
Sit straight on your chair, and raise your arms towards the ceiling while you inhale.
Thrust your fingertips upwards, with open palms facing each other.
Exhale, bring your arms down, and rest your palms on the floor.
Allow your head to hang freely.
Inhale, raising your arms towards the ceiling again.
Repeat this exercise 10 times, moving with the rhythm of your inhalations and exhalations.
The blood circulation in the brain and the sinuses increases, thus making you healthy in mind and body. In this pose, the brain and the sinuses are on a level such that the blood doesn’t have to flow against gravity, resulting in an increased blood supply.
It is beneficial in case you have a cold.
Avoid this pose if you have a high blood pressure or heart disease.
Stop performing this exercise if you feel unusual pressure around your eyes and ears.