Teaching Chair Yoga to Seniors


I am going to be teaching chair yoga at a retirement home twice a week. The sweet souls will be an average age of 87. I will be doing Chair Energization (it works really well), and a lot of connecting breath with movement, cat-cow, and visualization and affirmation.

Any other ideas or suggestions on the quintessential chair or seniors yoga?


Donna O'Neil
Eugene, Oregon

I did a retirement home yoga class for about 2 years. It was fun, and challenging. One thing I experienced is that the aged residents don't do too well with long meditative pauses, or even with visualizations where they have to close their eyes — inevitably they would fall asleep! very quickly. They really liked to do yoga movements and sing at the same time! We would often pick a song and do a few movements to it (like “Row Row Row Your Boat”). That would perk them up and keep them involved.

There is a great book called Easy Does it Yoga that helped me get started. I think it is put out by the American Yoga Association. The best advice I can give is this: Don’t be attached to having a particular agenda. The most important thing is their connection with you and that they feel you are a loving presence. Just go in there and love ’em to bits. They’ll love you for it and be energized as well.

Jo Marenberg
Urbana, Ohio

Nischala Joy Devi (author of The Healing Path of Yoga) has a seated Sun Salutation that I have successfully used with my senior class. However, my students range from 55 to 80. I haven't tried it on anyone 87.

Linda Martin
Tempe, Arizona

While I’ve never taught a “totally chair” class, I have taught seniors and I teach Parkinson’s patients… and these classes are “mostly chair.” I find the breathing exercises are near-miracles! So, I do A LOT of them! Seated energizations work really well too. I do a lot of gentle warm-ups for the entire body… from head to toe! The special needs modifications in our Yoga Teacher Training manual work really well. I do some standing poses, with the chairs there for support, balance. Standing balance with chairs available is really important if they are able to do it.

It's amazing how many poses can be adapted to chairs and they feel really good! The Yoga Minibook for Longevity by Elaine Gavalas has a “chair chapter” with some really good modifications.

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