Many people have caught on to chair yoga for its health benefits, but some might wonder if it helps with balance. Balance is a great concern when it comes to physical health, especially as people age and their balance are compromised due to the body’s growing limitations, deterioration, and loss of functions across time. Chair yoga is an excellent way to train and develop balance as a means of offsetting the loss of balance with age and other potential health issues. So, does chair yoga help with balance?
Chair yoga does help with balance, particularly for those with limited mobility due to age or other health concerns. Just as yoga enhances many aspects of physical and mental strength, chair yoga can provide the same advantages with the added security of using a chair for stabilization.
Chair yoga helps with balance training and offers numerous other benefits for health and well-being.
Chair yoga exercises can be performed by nearly anyone, including those who spend most of their days at a desk or even people on long airline flights. However, the groups that stand to gain the most benefits overall from chair yoga are those in the older adult and senior population.
Balance training is essential for this group as a means of preserving physical health and safety, particularly when it comes to the dangers of falling.
I’ve recently written an article 12 Reasons Why Chair Yoga is Great for Seniors.
Importance of Balance
Maintaining good balance, along with proper walking and range of motion, is important for good health and well-being. This is especially true for older adults since muscle mass and metabolism decrease with age. Older adults and seniors who are able to remain active often do activities to keep their balance training.
In general, this makes them better equipped to navigate the demands of daily life in addition to improving their chances of avoiding falls.
However, those seniors that live more sedentary lifestyles due to health problems or other circumstances often struggle with their balance. This poses several risks, especially for people over the age of 65.
With this population in the United States, it’s estimated that one-third will experience a fall in a given year, making falls the number one cause of fatal and non-fatal injuries, according to ACE Fitness.
Also, according to Aging Care, falls are the second leading cause of brain and spinal cord injuries among older adults. Bone fractures and soft tissue injuries are the most common injuries due to falls.
To compound the problem for seniors, even minor trauma due to a fall can require hospitalization. This can result in exposure to illness, subsequent mental and emotional health issues, and prevent them from regaining their prior levels of physical functionality and balance.
Therefore, balance and balance training are vitally important for older adults and seniors, both for performing everyday activities and as a means of avoiding the potential dangers and consequences of falling. Chair yoga is one of the most effective, safest, and easiest methods of developing this balance and balance training.
Yoga originated as a Hindu philosophy in India as a means of knowing and freeing the self through the calming of mind and body activity. Most people today practice yoga as a series of physical postures and exercises, breathing techniques, and meditation in order to promote physical, mental, and emotional balance and well-being.
Yoga is one of the most effective ways to train for balance, and those who cannot participate in traditional yoga sessions can still perform exercises while using a chair for support—often called chair yoga.
Chair yoga integrates flexibility and balance training for those with limited mobility due to age or other conditions such as chronic pain, osteoporosis, and multiple sclerosis. This is achieved through adapting yoga positions and exercises for use with a chair to allow greater stabilization.
Just like standard yoga, chair yoga offers several benefits, including:
- Increased flexibility
- Greater balance
- Weight loss
- Increased circulation
- Greater muscular endurance
- Improved mental and emotional state
- Reduced anxiety
- Relief of stiffness
- Spatial awareness
- Enhanced task management
During traditional yoga exercises, the body goes through poses and flows of motion in cycles that also incorporate breathing techniques and sometimes meditation. Chair yoga implements the same exercises and cycles as traditional yoga, with the poses and moves either replicated or altered to accommodate the use of a chair.
The presence and use of a chair allow the person performing chair yoga to support and stabilize their movements for ease and safety.
Chair Yoga and Balance
Experts believe that balance training is one of the best tools to help prevent falls and resulting injuries or loss of function for those at greater risk. Chair yoga is shown to not only help maintain levels of balance for those who practice it but also to enhance balance training.
In addition, chair yoga can build confidence and reaction time and present an opportunity to practice mindfulness and body awareness. This not only improves physical balance but the feeling of emotional and mental balance as well.
Chair yoga is also very accessible for those whose conditions may prevent them from being able to go out and make a formal yoga class. There are many tutorials to showcase different poses and exercises that can be done from home.
Beginners should use the support of a chair, wall, or other solid surfaces until they gain confidence and build challenges slowly. As with anything, chair yoga takes time and practice to master and improve.
Balance levels can change daily, and throughout the day, so it’s best to do chair yoga on a routine basis for maximum effects. It’s also important to warm up the body before beginning any poses or exercises.
Safety should be foremost in mind for those who begin any exercise or movement program, and chair yoga is no exception. Consulting with your doctor to ensure fitness for chair yoga and to develop a safe and productive plan is essential.
Additional Benefits of Chair Yoga
It can be intimidating for some to participate in any type of yoga due to the complex poses often shown in magazines or on screen. However, nearly anyone can practice chair yoga and reap its many benefits—even those with mobility limitations.
Chair yoga not only yields improved balance, strength, flexibility, and other physical attributes, but it also can reduce stress, improve mental clarity, and help with pain management. Yoga techniques often incorporate mindfulness, focused and conscious awareness of the present moment, and acceptance.
These mental and emotional benefits can lessen the impact of chronic illnesses and pain and lead to a greater potential for happiness and personal well-being, according to Yoga From the Heart.
Some additional benefits of chair yoga include:
- Opportunities to meet others
- Chance to socialize regularly
- Non-intimidating and safe introduction to yoga
- Ability to set and achieve personal goals
Whether you participate in chair yoga as part of a group or individually at home, there is a strong likelihood that you will feel healthier, more relaxed, and more physically, mentally, and emotionally balanced. These effects can impact the completion of daily tasks, quality of sleep, and overall outlook when it comes to personal confidence and competence.
Perhaps the greatest benefit of chair yoga is the idea that those who choose to practice it, especially among older adults and seniors, are doing something to promote their overall health and prevent harmful consequences due to potential falls as a result of aging.
This activity can have far-reaching effects on people of all ages. However, chair yoga significantly improves the balance and quality of life for people suffering from chronic pain, advanced age, limited mobility, and other health issues.