More Benefits of Chair Yoga
Flexibility is considered to be a “by product” of Yoga practice, but in the case of Chair Yoga, it is often “down played” or taken for granted. Since most Chair Yoga enthusiasts are seniors, the true value of flexibility is mobility.
When you consider that mobility for seniors can be the difference between dependence and independence, flexibility is now of extreme value.
The following is an observation I have made after working with groups from assisted living complexes, adult day care centers, nursing homes, and seniors centers. The average mobile senior citizen is much more flexible in the hips, spine, wrists, and shoulders, than his or her dependent counterpart.
Just crossing the legs can be difficult for the clients I work with in a nursing home. Students in Chair Yoga classes learn a variety of exercises that will “free up” many of the major joints. Many students also remark how pain, from a variety of ailments, is much more manageable, after practicing Chair Yoga.
Increased range of motion makes a difference, when reaching for anything. It also helps to prevent injuries that can occur from strain or a possible fall. If a senior falls, there is certainly the potential that the results could be life threatening.
Chair Yoga offers a significant number of balancing exercises. Although balance can be affected by medication, inner ear problems, and more, many seniors show much improvement in balancing their bodies within weeks of their first Chair Yoga class. Therefore, flexibility and balance are a significant part of an injury prevention package that can improve, or enhance, the quality of life for seniors. This fact has been realized by seniors who flock to Chair Yoga classes on a daily, or weekly, basis.
Most of us realize that physical conditioning is not the only factor involved in dependence. There are a number of disabling diseases that can affect any one of us and have nothing to do with lack of flexibility. Lack of flexibility is not the single overriding factor involved in independence for seniors.
However, it is a fact that less mobile, and frail, seniors will become confined.
Hence, most seniors should make an effort to stay flexible, for what is ultimately their own dignity at stake. You could look at your physical condition as an insurance policy for independent living. After all, who really wants to impose on their children or relatives for the sake of existence?
Chair Yoga can easily work in harmony with most physical rehabilitation prescriptions. Many physical therapists have knowledge of Yoga or are teachers of Yoga. Many doctors, physical therapists, and medical professionals recommend Yoga to patients who are making a “come back.”
Yoga gives these patients the strength to move ahead, when many would be discouraged. The comebacks that I have personally witnessed are inspiring to me as a Yoga teacher. Over time, I have seen come backs from strokes, heart attacks, and car accidents.
It touches me that they thanked me for teaching them Yoga or Chair Yoga.
The courage to go on came from within their minds, but Yoga became a significant part of their lives. As a Yoga teacher the inspiration was mutual and made me feel helpful. After all, being of help, and being appreciated, are prime motivations for teachers of any subject.
Muscle tone is a result of stretching and flexing any muscle group. Active muscles display themselves on anybody that chooses to use them. This is also a good way to relieve oneself of anxiety, stress, tension, and prevent depression. Like the other benefits, previously mentioned, this results in whole body health. A healthy body does, indeed, compliment a healthy mind.
For those clients who are confined to a chair, it is wise to include some form of a weight bearing, or weight resistance, exercise program. For those who can stand, Chair Yoga is another weight bearing exercise that will stimulate bone building.
With progressive weight resistance, you use free weights or machines, but with Yoga you bear your own body weight. The end result of these exercise programs would be increased bone density and prevention of Osteoporosis.
Seniors spend more time alone, than any other age group. Sometimes, we all need a little solitude, but too much solitude can lead to depression, in some of us. Living life like a monk is not for everyone.
Chair Yoga classes offer a social activity that helps to stimulate the mind and body in a positive way. This becomes an uplifting activity that participants look forward to. Regular attendance, and socializing in Chair Yoga classes, is a healthy activity that leads to building strong relationships.
It also exposes seniors to the many activities that are going on within the community center. Participants of chair Yoga classes are exposed to whole health and gain a nutritional education as a member of a senior, community, or wellness center.
Lastly, all participants in Chair Yoga classes learn to relax and quiet the mind, through breath awareness, meditation, stage-by-stage relaxation, a combination, or another method. The end result being that these Yoga students can control their minds, focus on the good things in life, and prevent depression.