Yoga Chair Poses for Seniors

Yoga is a practice that is accessible to people of all ages and all fitness levels. It has therapeutic benefits even to older people who may not be able to stand for long periods of time or who may be uncomfortable seated on the floor. Many standard yoga poses can easily be adapted for seniors to perform while sitting in a chair.

Seated Twist

Sit in your chair facing forward with your feet flat on the floor. Extend the crown of your head up toward the ceiling to lengthen your spine. Gently twist the torso to the left side, rotating through your midsection but keeping your buttocks firmly planted on the seat of the chair. If it is comfortable, use your hands on the edges of the seat to move your body a little deeper into the twist. Hold here for five to 10 breaths and release back to center. Repeat on the other side.

Seated Forward Bend

Sit in your chair with your feet flat on the floor and your hands on your thighs. Walk your feet out a little bit so that your legs are bent at about a 45-degree angle. Lengthen your spine and start to walk your hands forward and down your legs, folding forward as far as you can without rounding your back. Hold the pose for 10 breaths and release.

Modified Thread-the-Needle-Pose

Sit in your chair with both feet flat on the floor. Pick up your right leg and place your right ankle on top of your left thigh about two inches above your kneecap. Allow your right knee to fall out to the side. Your right knee should be bent at about a 90-degree angle. Stay here if this is enough of a stretch for you. otherwise, you can begin to lean the upper body forward as long as you keep the spine straight. Hold the pose for 10 breaths and release. Switch sides.

Supported Backbend

Sit in your chair facing to one side with your inside arm holding the back of the chair for support. Slowly slide your buttocks forward and lie down onto the chair so that the seat supports your entire middle back. Keep your feet firmly on the ground and allow your head and shoulders to extend back over the edge of the seat, coming into a back bend. Maintain a sturdy grasp on the back of the chair, or if you feel comfortable, begin to take your arms overhead. To come up, use the back of the chair to pull your body upright. Move slowly, as coming back up too quickly can cause dizziness.

About the Author

Jody Braverman is a health and fitness professional and writer in Seattle. She has been a personal trainer and yoga instructor for almost a decade and is passionate about movement and helping people lead active, healthy lives.