As inspiration for your next family visit, I’d like to show you a few exercises that are good for my grandma.
Grandma’s favorite senior yoga exercises
1. Mountain pose with hand on the chair
With her hand on the chair, my grandma can close her eyes and confidently enjoy her mountain pose, feel her safe stand, sense her physical balance, and take a deep breath. Tadasana is a grounding posture that improves posture and exercises the back muscles while relieving pressure on the spine and hips.
The hand on the chair is a wonderful option to give my grandma security to fully enjoy the mountain pose.
2. Forward bend on the chair
Paschimottanasana on the chair is the ideal senior yoga variation. Gently open the back of the thighs and back here. You can calm down, let go, and loosen your stiff back after a long day. For my grandma, who has arthritis, this variation is incredibly ideal, because her knees and ankles are spared. So this seated forward bend can be practiced without worrying about balance.
3. Alternate nostril breathing
Sitting upright on the chair is ideal for pranayama. The beauty of it is that you can integrate breathing exercises into your everyday life at any time. At your desk, doing senior yoga, or even on the subway on your way from A to B. Nadi Shodana, clearing your energy channels, is one of my favorite breathing techniques and my grandma really enjoys it too. Alternate breathing has a balancing effect and brings you back to your center. It always gives you exactly what you need right now. A true miracle!
4. Neck stretches
Every one of us probably knows neck tension. Super beneficial is this stretching exercise while sitting. While doing this, lower your ear to your shoulder, keep your back very long and straight, and continue to breathe in and out calmly. To intensify the stretch you can stretch the hand on the opposite side towards the floor so that the stretched side is pulled even longer. You can practice this calmly on both sides and maybe even dynamically couple it to your breath again afterward. As you do this, inhale, lift your head, exhale, and lower your head to the side. Repeat this a few times.
5. Seated twist in yoga for seniors
Make sure you have a long spine and neck. Your rotation comes from the thoracic spine (your chest) in Ardha Matsyendrasana. Your hands gently guide the way. With each inhalation you can straighten up even more, pulling the crown of your head towards the sky, and with each exhalation your thoracic spine may open a little further. Relax your shoulders and feel free to close your eyes – just like my grandma. Breathe deeply into your belly, enjoy the twist, and feel how you center yourself further with each exhalation and relieve stress.
Mobile hips are very very important, especially in old age. The hip connects the thigh and pelvic bones and is an important mobility joint. It provides stability throughout the body and lets you walk, run, and climb stairs.
Grandma mobilizes her hips while sitting, circling one leg at a time from the hip. While doing this, one leg stays planted on the floor at a 90-degree angle, and the other leg circles up and then back over the outside. Rotate in both directions, making sure your back stays completely long. Repeat this exercise on both sides.
After practicing senior yoga (and any other yoga style), it’s nice to give yourself a little massage. Simply knead the arms and legs to stimulate blood circulation and prevent tension. There are many other exercises that can be practiced on the chair. Have fun trying out grandma’s favorite exercises.
What kind of chair in senior yoga?
The chair ideally has a seat height that allows the practitioner to place their legs at a 90-degree angle. The sitting bones hold contact with the seat surface and the spine is active and erect, not leaning. This is the basis of senior yoga and chair yoga. Together with my grandmother, I have often made these 15 Min. chair yoga session with Katja . It’s just super good for both of us.
I wish you a lot of fun with these seated senior yoga poses! Grandma and I have enjoyed sharing these exercises with you. Feel free to write us if you have tried the exercises with your family.