Yoga comes in a multitude of variations, including modified yoga poses that are designed to accommodate yogis with little or no leg mobility. In fact, yoga can be done while seated on a chair or wheelchair, and even while lying down.
Depending on an individual’s needs and abilities, yoga styles such as Hatha, Iyengar, and Chair Yoga will allow anyone to practice yoga.
The most popular of yoga styles would be Hatha Yoga
, which focuses on body-mind wellness via a series of breathing exercises and postures (asanas) that strengthen muscles and increase flexibility.
is a specialised branch of Hatha Yoga that is done via the use of props such as cushions, blocks, benches, or sandbags to allow beginners or persons with disabilities to also perform the correct postures. In fact, Iyengar Yoga is commonly used as form of yoga therapy for people with health or mobility problems.
, as its name suggests, is performed while in a seated position, including on a wheelchair. This form of yoga is especially beneficial for those with little or no leg mobility, such as the elderly or persons with disabilities.
Needless to say, yoga offers many health benefits, including better flexibility, enhanced stamina, muscle toning, improved focus, and mental health.
Improved flexibility allows persons with disabilities to strengthen the muscles necessary to bend over and carry out actions like tying their shoelaces or picking things up. Chair yoga is particularly helpful in honing flexibility.
As yoga teaches proper breathing techniques for meditation and relaxation, it also helps to improve the ability to cope with stress and pain. This could be beneficial for individuals who suffer from chronic ailments and experience pain frequently.
Improved coordination and greater control over body movements can be achieved via yoga as well. Being able to coordinate movements is especially important for persons with disabilities or the elderly, in order to avoid falls and injuries.
Those who suffer from mobility issues might not get much exercise, but yoga is a good way for these individuals to improve muscle strength in an effective manner that’s not too rigorous.
Disability yoga techniques can be picked up online via a variety of video tutorials. However, attending yoga lessons could serve as an opportunity for people with mobility issues to get out of the house and socialise. This could also improve self-confidence and lift their spirits!
Some simple yoga poses to perform while seated include the Seated Spinal Twist, Seated Side Stretch, Forward Bend, and Eagle Pose.
The starting pose should have the individual seated upright on the chair or wheelchair, without leaning on the backrest. A folded towel could be placed against the back if maintaining an upright position is difficult. The feet should also be resting on the floor. If the feet are unable to reach the floor, use a book or pillow under the feet.
Seated Spinal Twist
While keeping your feet on the floor, twist your upper body as if you’re trying to look over your shoulder. Grip on to the arm or back rest as a form of support to maintain the position for 30 seconds. Repeat the action for both sides. This stretches your back and sides.
Seated Side Stretch
Inhale and lift one arm up over your head, reaching for the opposite side of your body, while allowing your other arm to rest on your hip and arm rest for support. Exhale once your arm is on the opposite side, and hold the pose for 30 seconds. Then, inhale as you return to the starting position and do the same for the other side.
Inhale as you bend your body over your knees, and try to touch your toes. Hold the position for about 30 seconds, and repeat the move thrice. This pose improves flexibility in the hamstrings, lower back, and hips.
While seated upright, inhale and lift your arms. Then, exhale and interlock your palms and arms. Hold this position for 30 seconds while taking deep breaths. This post stretches the back and shoulders.