So you’ve heard of Yoga before, but struggle to picture yourself balancing on one leg with your arms up in the air! Luckily, not all Yoga practices involve such daunting poses. Chair Yoga is an excellent alternative to traditional Yoga practices that can be modified for people of all abilities. Over the years, the practice of Yoga has produced measurable benefits for its participants. Yoga not only has an impact on the body, but can promote positive changes within the mind as well. Here, we will outline the Top 5 Benefits of Chair Yoga for Older Adults.
1) Stress Minimization
Throughout the many years of Yoga practice, studies have demonstrated that Yoga has an immediate quieting effect on the mind. As a result of breath control, meditation, and focusing on one’s body, the brain is forced to pay attention to the current task and gets a chance to slow down. By focusing on the breath and synchronizing it with certain movements, the brain is present.
In addition to this quieting effect, Yoga has also been documented to minimize feelings of depression and anxiety within practitioners. Studies have actually proven that Yoga has an impact on how the brain functions and thus creates a meditative experience for practitioners. This reduction of stress, anxiety, and depression can also last beyond the Yoga session itself. Yoga not only teaches body movements and asanas (or poses), but encourages practitioners to adopt a certain way of inward thinking.
2) Increased Flexibility
The first thing that might pop into one’s head when they think of Yoga is “I cannot bend my body that way!”. Although there are some pretty intense asanas within the practice of Yoga, you do not have to push your body to experience the benefits.
Flexibility is an aspect that Yoga practices will help to increase over time, but not over night. Yoga asanas are essentially stretches for the practitioner to breathe into to help muscles and joints loosen. By breathing into these asanas, the body is able to go into a deeper stretch after a little practice. You cannot expect to be able to touch your toes immediately, but with regular practice, one will notice themselves making progress in their flexibility levels. After regularly practicing Chair Yoga, flexibility can increase.
With increased flexibility comes increased range of motion and mobility. By breathing into stretches and trying various asanas, the body will naturally get accustomed to these movements until they become almost second nature. Studies have shown that Yoga increases range of motion for people with chronic conditions like arthritis. By stretching the muscles around arthritic joints, the body is able move more freely even after the Yoga session concludes. With increased flexibility and range of motion, older adults can decrease their risk of falling and live their Best Life.
3) Increased Strength
Consistent with other types of exercise, Chair Yoga can help build muscle strength within its practitioners. By using muscles in new and different ways, the body will naturally strengthen and muscle mass will increase. Building strength is very important as we age. Being physically strong can make a difference in recovery situations for older adults as well.
4) A Form of Meditation
Another benefit of Chair Yoga is that it allows practitioners to enter a meditative state. When meditating in general, the idea is that the individual must quiet their mind and be completely present. With Chair Yoga, practitioners can achieve this by forgetting the noise around them and focusing on the practice itself. As I mentioned previously, focusing on the relationship between breath and movement is what Yoga is all about. This allows the practitioner to feel more connected with the body and themselves as a whole.
There are multiple benefits of meditation itself, including reduced levels of stress, anxiety and depression, as well as increased relaxation and mental clarity. By combining these benefits with the benefits of physical exercise, there is a whole new world of possibilities.
5) Increased Self-Awareness
As mentioned in the previous points, Chair Yoga can help promote mental clarity and concentration for its practitioners. By practicing breath control and synchronizing body movements with breathing, practitioners become more in-tune with their body and its needs. In a Yoga practice, you can understand what your body needs through each exercise by paying attention to how you feel. Your body will guide you to understand how to feel like your best self. Your Best Life Chair Yoga instructor will also provide you with tips and tricks to reap the most benefits of Yoga through each session.