Written by Becky Lugardo, PT, DPT
Yoga is an excellent way for older adults to loosen and stretch painful muscles, reduce stress, and improve circulation. It also reduces anxiety, helps lower blood pressure, protects joints, and builds strength and balance. Utilizing various modifications to traditional yoga poses and balancing exercises, chair yoga can achieve many of the same health benefits, while significantly reducing the stress on muscles and joints. The chair provides support for traditional standing poses, which are modified to be performed while sitting in the chair.
A recent study on Chair Yoga conducted at Florida Atlantic University showed pain reduction, improved mobility and improvement of security and well-being. This 8 – week program was the first to show Chair Yoga as an alternative treatment for lower extremity osteoarthritis. In fact, the Arthritis Foundation recommends yoga to improve joint pain, improve flexibility, balance and reduce stress and muscle tension.
A core concept of yoga is to respect your body: be mindful of how your body feels when practicing yoga and accept your physical limitations. Focus on how a pose feels and discern between discomfort and pain. Stop doing any pose that feels painful. As we grow older, our bodies age with us. Healthy lifestyle habits, like regular exercise, can slow the aging process.
In addition to regular aerobic exercise, the Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans recommend muscle strengthening activities and exercises to improve or maintain balance. Similar guidelines were jointly released by the American Heart Association and the American College of Sports Medicine, with the addition of flexibility exercises. Research shows a regular exercise program can improve mobility and balance, reduce fall risk and help maintain functional fitness and quality of life.
If you are someone who has osteoarthritis, trouble with standing exercise or are just looking for a new low impact alternative to regular exercise, you may want to consider adding a Chair Yoga program into your weekly routine. Yoga adds not only a low impact physical component to your routine, but also a mental one by calming and relaxing participants. Inevitably this can lead to a greater feeling of happiness and well-being…from which everyone can benefit!
Give Chair Yoga a Try! We Would Love To See You!
Join us as we offer a Restorative Chair Yoga class at CLPT's Shared Studio Space!! Click below to check out the details and register for the class!
Emily Craigen, owner of Crystal Lake Physical Therapy, is a Doctor of Physical Therapy and a local Crystal Lake resident who is excited to bring health and wellness to her community.