Chair yoga: such an effective alternative!

In 1982, yoga teacher Lakshmi Voelker-Binder developed chair yoga to provide an accessible option for students with arthritis. Chair yoga includes the same elements as traditional yoga, including physical postures (asanas), meditation (dyana), and breathing techniques (pranayama).

But this gentle practice modifies standard yoga poses so you can do them while seated in a chair. You can also use a chair to maintain a certain balance by performing postures while standing. Most yoga poses, such as twists, backbends, and forward bends, can be adapted to chair yoga. So you can take a chair yoga class or a traditional yoga class that includes seated modifications to suit your abilities.

What are the benefits of chair yoga?

Modified chair yoga poses work many of the same muscles as traditional yoga poses. This inclusive practice thus offers similar health benefits. Practicing chair yoga can:

Improve balance and flexibility.

Maintaining balance and flexibility is essential for health and well-being. This can reduce the risk of injury and help you stay independent as you age. This point is essential, because 3 million elderly people go to the emergency room each year for fall-related injuries. In a 2010 study, older people living in a retirement community practiced yoga twice a week for 12 weeks. They performed most of the poses while sitting in a chair or standing and using a chair for balance. At the end of the study, participants had better lower body flexibility and better static balance.

Improve muscle tone and strength.

Traditional yoga can improve strength in people of all ages. And according to a 2021 study, chair yoga can help older adults build and maintain muscle strength. Researchers have also found that chair exercises improve upper and lower body function. This is important because muscle mass decreases with age. And this decline can be accompanied by a loss of strength and function in older people.

Improve your mood and mental well-being.

Practicing yoga can have mental health benefits, such as reduced anxiety and improved mood. Evidence suggests that these benefits apply to many styles of yoga, including chair yoga. In a small-scale study, older adults took chair yoga classes once a week. After three months, they reported improvements such as reduced stress, better mood and fewer panic attacks. They also saw an improvement in their general health, physical function and social well-being.

Helps in the management of chronic diseases.

Seated yoga can help people manage chronic conditions like type 2 diabetes. For example, a small pilot study looked at the effects of a 10-minute chair yoga program on people with diabetes. Participants received standard care and were encouraged to incorporate the routine into their daily lives. During a three-month follow-up, they showed improvement in their blood sugar, heart rate and blood pressure.

Reduce chronic pain.

About 20% of adults suffer from chronic pain that can interfere with their daily lives. Ongoing research shows that yoga can be an effective alternative for managing chronic pain. According to a study, practicing chair yoga can help seniors reduce pain and fatigue due to osteoarthritis.

Who Should Do Chair Yoga?

Anyone can practice chair yoga. But this modified practice may be ideal for certain groups, including:

People aged 65 and over :

Chair yoga for seniors is a safe, low-impact exercise that can support healthy aging. The adaptability and benefits such as reduced risk of falling and improved functional mobility may make this practice particularly appealing to older people.

People with chronic illnesses :

A growing body of research indicates that a seated yoga practice can help people manage chronic conditions (and related pain) such as arthritis, diabetes and dementia.

People working in an office :

Sitting at a desk for long periods of time can cause exhaustion, high blood pressure, and lower back, neck, and shoulder pain. Practicing yoga in the workplace can help relieve back pain and improve mental well-being. A study found that just 15 minutes of chair yoga in the office can improve physical and psychological stress. However, it is best to consult your doctor before beginning chair yoga, especially if you have any health conditions.

How often should chair yoga be practiced?

There is no official guideline on how often you should practice chair yoga. However, adults 65 and older are recommended to do two days of strengthening exercises and three days of balance activities each week. Practicing chair yoga two to three times a week can therefore be a good starting point.

* Presse Santé strives to transmit health knowledge in a language accessible to all. In NO CASE, the information given can not replace the opinion of a health professional.

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Chair yoga: such an effective alternative!

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