There are many health benefits when it comes to yoga. According to Johns Hopkins, some of the benefits include back pain relief, heart health, better sleep, relief from arthritis, stress management, and improvement in strength and flexibility. With so many challenging poses in yoga, one may assume that it would be tough to perform yoga while in a wheelchair. However, yoga for people in wheelchairs is a very real thing, and there are plenty of wheelchair yoga poses that can help seniors (and beginners) reap all the benefits of yoga. Read on to learn more about wheelchair yoga, yoga poses for seniors in wheelchairs, and how to get started.
Wheelchair Yoga: How to Get Started
The most important thing for anyone to do before beginning any exercise regimen is to talk with your doctor first. While yoga and wheelchair yoga are considered relatively safe exercises that have a lot of benefits, it’s still important to discuss wheelchair yoga exercises with your doctor first to get the green light. You also may want to consider buying some props to help improve the chair yoga experience. This can include exercise equipment such as yoga blocks, a strap or belt, and a blanket. If you are already struggling with balance, make sure that you have someone with you the first time you do chair yoga, whether it’s in a class or at home. Speaking of classes, there may be local wheelchair yoga classes in your area—a quick Google search can tell you if there’s something available in your area.
Once you get started, just as with any exercise, make sure that you listen to and are in tune with your body. If something hurts or causes you pain, you should stop. However, if it’s a mobility or flexibility issue, you can always start slow and work up to the point where you have more flexibility.
Wheelchair Yoga: Different Types to Try
Suppose you start out doing wheelchair yoga for beginners or chair yoga that is aimed at seniors with limited mobility. In that case, you’ll come across several different kinds of chair yoga, particularly if you’re looking up new things to try on YouTube.
Some of the different types of chair yoga you may come across include:
- Chair yoga with props. If you decide to try yoga with props, there are many chair yoga videos out there that include everyday items as well as exercise equipment, such as yoga blocks.
- Chair yoga with standing poses mixed in. If you have limited mobility but can stand with the support of a chair, there is some light chair yoga with some standing poses mixed, to help improve mobility and flexibility.
- Restorative chair yoga. This type of wheelchair yoga includes two chairs (you may want to have another person with you) as well as prop usage to help you relax.
- Chair yoga for the core. You may find some chair yoga classes are directly aimed at strengthening the back and the core.
- Chair yoga for wrists, neck, and shoulders. Other classes may target different areas of the body, such as the wrists, neck, and shoulders.
Wheelchair Yoga: Different Poses to Try
If you’re just getting started with chair yoga, you may want to try some poses on your own or watch some videos to get an idea of how to move. All yoga starts with breathing. You can sit up straight in a chair, with ankles below the knees, paying careful attention to your breath. As you exhale, you should be able to keep your tall spine as you concentrate on your breath. Other things to try include:
- Adding arms. Once you have your breathing down, you can keep your tall spine but extend your arms out in front of you.
- Adding neck rolls. Using your stomach muscles as a means of support, you can gently roll your neck from left to right and then from right to left.
- Shoulder circles. Keeping your tall spine, you can make circles with each shoulder to help improve strength and flexibility.
- Forward bend. If you are able, tighten your stomach muscles and bend as far forward as possible (making sure you don’t cause pain). Repeat the exercise as you concentrate on deep breathing.
- Forward bend with a shoulder stretch. Repeat the same move as above, but this time, put your hands behind your back to stretch as you bend forward.
There are many other poses that can be performed from a chair, such as cat-cow, seated pigeon, side angle, and a seated twist. There are many instructional videos on YouTube that can help demonstrate so that you make the right moves and don’t hurt yourself in the process. Even wheelchair yoga can include a lot of stretching, so be cautious your first few times out.
To hear more about wheelchair yoga, mobility aids that can be life-changing, or services such as wheelchair ramp rental, contact us at Williams Lift Co. today. We want both patients and caregivers to live their best lives possible.