As we age, it’s important to prioritize our physical and mental well-being.
Regular physical movement and exercise play a significant role in maintaining overall health, and yoga has proven to be an effective form of not only exercise but a holistic practice for people of all ages.
However, for seniors and folks with limited mobility or balance issues, a yoga practice like Hatha, often filled with standing postures and faster-paced movements may not be aligned with their needs.
Practicing yoga on a couch can be a safe and accessible option.
In this article, we will explore the benefits of sofa yoga for seniors and for anyone else who’d like to try this accessible way to practice.
We will also introduce you to eight poses that can be easily performed at home and can help you get started.
In this article, we will discover more about:
- Benefits of sofa yoga for Seniors
- 8 Sofa Yoga Poses for Seniors
- A sofa yoga for seniors practice
Let’s dive in together.
Benefits of sofa yoga for Seniors
There are many reasons why any person, no matter their age, should consider incorporating yoga practices, even if on their sofa, into their daily routine.
Sofa yoga for seniors, in particular, can be beneficial in many ways.Here are a few:
- Regular practice of sofa yoga can help seniors improve flexibility by gently stretching muscles and connective tissues.
- Sofa yoga for seniors helps increase the range of motion in joints, promoting joint health and reducing stiffness.
- Gentle movements and holds in couch yoga for seniors poses can help strengthen their muscles without putting excessive strain on their bodies.
- Sofa yoga emphasizes mindfulness and breathing techniques, providing seniors with opportunities to relax, reduce stress levels, and improve mental well-being.
- Certain postures can aid digestion by stimulating the abdominal area and promoting the smooth functioning of the digestive system.
- Gentle stretching and movements in sofa yoga poses can enhance blood circulation, reducing the risk of cardiovascular diseases.
- Regular practice of these poses can help alleviate day-to-day aches and pains, improving overall comfort.
Sofa yoga can also be of great benefit for other populations like those with disabilities and living with chronic illness or pain, as well as for anyone who feels like making their practice more stable and relaxing.
8 Sofa Yoga Poses for Seniors
There are many asanas that can be adapted to being seated on the couch.
Here, we will share with you 10 poses ideal for sofa yoga for seniors and anyone else who’d like to give them a try.
As always, check with your doctor and a trusted, certified yoga instructor before getting started or if you have any concerns.
Here are 10 sofa yoga poses:
1# Seated mountain pose
Mountain pose, or Tadasana, is often defined as the most foundational posture in Hatha yoga.
Practicing this shape standing up has many benefits, and we encourage you to add traditional mountain pose into your practice if you want to/are able to.
However, seated mountain pose is a great alternative for those wanting to feel more stable in the pose or are unable to stand.
To begin, perhaps move yourself a bit more toward the edge of the sofa.
Keep your feet on the ground or on blocks if possible, then feel the ground beneath you. Root down through your sitting bones and lengthen your spine, taking a few breaths in the pose.
2# Neck stretches
Seniors often experience neck and shoulder pain due to various factors such as poor posture or age-related changes.
Neck stretches can help relieve tension in the muscles, alleviate pain, and promote the relaxation of the neck and shoulder area.
To keep it simple, seat in seated mountain pose, connect to your breath, and when you’re ready, first move your gaze up and down, allowing your cervical spine to gently flex (bending the neck forwards) and extend the cervical spine (gazing toward the sky).
Do that a few times and then bring your neck and spine back to neutral.
Now inhale to lengthen your spine, and exhale to gaze over your right shoulder. Inhale to come back through the center, and exhale to gaze over your left shoulder. Also, do this a few times.
Finally, inhale to lengthen your neck, and exhale to bring your left ear to your left shoulder. Notice the stretch on the right side of the neck as you relax your right shoulder down.
Come back through the middle with an inhalation, and bring it all to the other side with an exhalation, this time feeling the stretch on the left side of your neck.
Do this a couple of times, always moving slowly and mindfully.
If at any point you feel pain, slowly release the posture.
3# Shoulder rolls
When practicing couch yoga for seniors who spend a lot of time seated or have sedentary lifestyles, they may experience tension and tightness in the upper back, neck, and shoulders.
Shoulder rolls can help alleviate this tension and promote relaxation in these areas.
You can practice a few shoulder rolls forward and back, taking both shoulders at the same time first forward, and then back, or you can choose to alternate, also giving your brain a little extra challenge.
4# Seated twist
As we age, our spines tend to become less flexible.
Seated twists can help to improve spinal mobility by gently stretching the muscles and ligaments in the spine.
This can help to reduce pain and stiffness, and improve posture.
Seated twists can also stretch the muscles in the neck, chest, shoulders, and upper, and lower back. This can help to relieve tension in these areas and improve range of motion.
5# Seated cat-cow stretch
Seated cat-cow stretch can help to improve spinal mobility by gently stretching the muscles and ligaments in the spine. This can help to reduce pain and stiffness and improve posture.
As we did in some of the other sofa yoga exercises mentioned in this article, consider sitting a little closer to the edge to practice this posture.
Sit in a seated mountain pose, and bring your hands to your knees or thighs, with your fingertips facing down toward your feet.
On your inhalation, lift your chest and chin slightly up, drawing your hands toward your hips and your elbows towards the sides of your body.
On your exhalation, tuck your chin a bit toward your chest, gazing down toward your navel and rounding your back, sliding your hands back toward the knees.
Repeat these two sofa yoga for seniors postures a few times, aligning the movement with the cadence of your breath.
6# Seated forward bend with a pillow
This restorative posture can be a great pose to practice on your couch.
We suggest the pillow or bolster to make it more relaxing, and to keep you from inverting, especially if you have blood pressure issues.
The seated forward bend is a relaxing pose that can help to calm the mind and reduce stress. This is because it helps to release tension in the body and mind.
7# Wrist stretches
When our joints become weaker and less elastic, doing a few wrist and hand stretches every day, or at least often, can help to maintain flexibility and range of motion, which can help to prevent injuries and pain.
A few wrist and hand stretches you can try while practicing sofa yoga for seniors:
- Wrist circles: Make soft fists with your hands and make some circles with your wrists in both directions. Start with small circles and gradually make them larger.
- Finger stretches: Gently stretch your hands as open as you can. Then close them tightly. Start to do that as fast as you can keeping the range of motion for 5 to 10 times.
- Palm stretches: Gently stretch your palms by pressing them together and spreading them apart a few times.
8# Supported Corpse Pose (Savasana)
A posture designed to help you relax, we invite you to either lay down on the couch, or stay seated if you rather, making yourself super comfortable with pillows and cushions.
If you wanted to, you could also bring yourself to the ground and place your legs on top of the couch, taking a variation of Viparita Karani.
Stay in Savasana for a few breaths, or for a few minutes, giving yourself some time to let go and integrate the practice.
A sofa yoga for seniors practice
If you’d like to try a class that is ideal as sofa yoga for seniors, check out this short practice on Youtube:
Sofa yoga for seniors offers numerous benefits, both physically and mentally.
By incorporating gentle movements and stretches into their daily routine, seniors and other folks with reduced mobility or living with pain can improve flexibility, strengthen muscles, and reduce stress.
The eight suggested poses serve as accessible starting points for seniors to enhance their overall well-being and maintain a healthy lifestyle.
To explore more yoga poses and practices for seniors, check out this article next.