5 Yoga Poses for Wheelchair Users
Practicing yoga has been shown to provide many benefits for the mind, body and soul. First derived from the philosophies, principles and practices of the ancient Indian Vedic tradition, practicing yoga regularly can have several positive effects on your general health and wellbeing, including:
- Improved strength and posture
- Increased flexibility
- Improved and better sleep
- Increased feelings of self-awareness and confidence
- Reduced feelings of stress and anxiety
- Improved mental focus and mood
- Relaxes and replenishes your mind
Yoga is a very adaptable exercise, suitable for people of all ages, abilities, body types and fitness levels and can be modified to suit your particular needs. There are several wheelchair friendly poses you can practice either indoors or outdoors. Try some of the following poses for yourself:
1. Cat Pose
To begin, make yourself as comfortable as possible, sitting upright with your back and head held straight. You may grip the side of your wheelchair or place your hands in your lap to centre yourself and spend a few moments breathing slowly, inhaling and exhaling deeply through your nose.
To do cat pose start by rounding your back, bringing your shoulders, chin and head down towards your chest and exhaling. Inhale to lift your head, open your shoulders and look up towards the ceiling. This pose will help you stretch your spine. Repeat at least three times, or as many times as you need and feel comfortable.
2. Forward Bend
This pose helps to stimulate the abdominal area and provides a deeper stretch for the spine and lower back area. Take a deep breath in and stretch your arms out to your sides and move them straight up beside your ears towards the ceiling. Bend forward from your waist as far as you can, stretching your arms in down front of you. (If you’re not comfortable with having your arms forward, you can hold the arms of your wheelchair for support). Continue breathing deeply and hold this pose for at least 3 to 5 breaths.
Twisting your body is great for stretching and relieving tension in your lower back. For this pose, inhale as you bring your right hand across to your left leg while using your opposite arm for support on the arm of your chair. Exhale as you twist at the waist and look over your left shoulder. Continue breathing as you hold this position for 3 to 5 breaths. Repeat twice on each side of your body.
4. Eagle Pose
This pose stretches the shoulders and the back. Begin by inhaling and lifting your arms so that they are in front of you. Your elbows should be bent at a 90 degree angle with your upper arms parallel to the floor and forearms up towards the sky. As you exhale, cross your arms over one another at the elbows and rest the backs of your hands together. Hold this position for 3 to 5 breaths. Remember to keep breathing slowly and deeply as your stretch.
5. Leg Stretch
It’s important to stretch your legs to increase blood flow and circulation. While sitting up tall with your spine stretched, take a deep breath. Exhale as you reach your hands around the back of your leg or on top of your shin and bring one knee up towards your chest. Continue breathing deeply as you hold the position for 3 to 5 breaths, then repeat on the opposite leg. If you’re feeling more adventurous, try the seated pigeon pose in the video below:
Always consult your doctor or physical therapist before starting any new exercise routine to obtain the necessary advice on what activities are suitable for you. At Automobility, our main goal is to improve mobility and help you maintain independence, giving you back some freedom.
If you’d like to know more about how a wheelchair access vehicle can benefit an active lifestyle, you can contact our team here. We are more than happy to support and guide you along the way.