Chair Yoga and the Mobility of Seniors
Chair Yoga classes make a definite change in the stride or gait of seniors. The shortening of our stride can have a negative effect on self-confidence. Yoga gives seniors an opportunity to naturally lengthen each stride. In turn, the increased mobility enhances self-confidence and independence.
You might think that walking would give seniors the required mobility needed to live a quality life. Walking is great therapy for the cardiovascular system and it settles the mind. I have met many enthusiastic walkers over 65 years of age, who show the benefits of a regular walking program.
Additionally, during walking sessions, each step forward is filled with self-confidence. Walking is, in fact, a form of mind and body exercise therapy. However, Yoga is designed to help each of us with anatomic and postural deficits, which naturally occur during the aging process.
There are many reasons why the length of our stride shortens over time. Some of it has to do with skeletal health. In the case of skeletal health, each of us would prefer to maintain a peak hip extension and an average pelvic tilt.
As we age, our posture can change, due to weakened abdominal and hip muscles. Chair Yoga programs are a healthy form of intervention for the skeletal health of seniors. There are many Yoga postures to choose from, when considering skeletal health in the hips and pelvis.
When considering specific postures, one should realize they may have to be modified by using a chair, Yoga strap, blocks, or other props. There are many forms of Virabhadrasana (Warrior Pose). One suggestion would be Warrior 1, Warrior 2, and Reverse Warrior.
Garudasana (Eagle Pose), Tadasana (Mountain Pose), Vrksasana (Tree Pose), and Trikonasana (Triangle Pose) would all be helpful in developing improved structural alignment. These are very brief examples of Yoga postures that can be modified for seniors.
Improved posture is not an accident. Chair Yoga classes can be found in most senior centers, but many of them meet once per week. Seniors, who practice Yoga at home, in addition to classes, will see and feel results sooner than those who practice once a week in a class.
Ultimately, mobility and skeletal health are issues that require prevention and maintenance. If we want to increase, or maintain our level of mobility, it is up to each of us to take action by joining a walking club, participating in sports, and practicing chair Yoga at home or within a class.