Seated Yoga For Seniors

The ancient practice of yoga is touted as a discipline that promises to keep older adults limber, toned and in balance but beginners or those with restricted mobility may find many poses impossible to perform.  That’s where seated yoga steps in with a practice that offers many of the same benefits of traditional yoga performed on the floor or while standing.

Chair yoga modifies various poses to be done while seated, allowing those who cannot stand or have limited mobility to benefit from the twists, stretches and bends yoga provides.  An eight-week study, published in the International Journal of Yoga, found that seated yoga “is a feasible and safe intervention for elderly seniors who may be at risk for falls.”  During the course of the study in which participants over the age of 65 participated in a yoga class twice per week, three were able to eliminate the use of their assistive device. All participants in the study relied on some type of assistive device for mobility. To read the full study visit: .

Yoga has been found to help increase flexibility, balance and muscle tone, improve posture and reduce stress.  The deep breathing involved in the practice of yoga is also attributed to an increase in lung capacity.

The best news about seated yoga is that no special equipment is required other than a sturdy chair however shorter people may need to use a folded towel or yoga block to support the feet.  Many senior centers offer adaptive yoga classes which can be modified for almost any level or ability.

Older adults often turn to yoga not only for the health benefits to the body, but also for the social aspect of getting out of the house to meet with peers.  Social connections are vital to maintaining good mental health as we age.

Always begin with a very gentle yoga practice and ease into more challenging poses and difficulty levels. Consult with a doctor before beginning any new fitness program; those with spinal problems or glaucoma should take extra precaution and avoid poses that twist or invert the body.  Seniors with arthritis may also benefit from participating in water yoga which can alleviate strain on joints.

Check with your local community center, senior center or YMCA for yoga classes for seniors.  Look for teachers who have received specialized training for teaching yoga to older adults.