Chair Yoga for the Brain

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Yoga And Healthy Aging: Exercises For Both Sides Of The Brain

When we think of healthy aging, the brain may be one of the first things that comes to mind. Our brains are performing complex tasks 24 hours a day- most of which we do not even have to think about. We perform countless movements and functional tasks throughout the day. These all require the right and the left sides of our brain to work together. You may have referred to yourself as a left brain or right brain person. The truth of the matter is that the brain is switching dominance throughout the day.

The left and right sides of the brain are in constant communication with each other and we really need both sides to complete tasks. We may tend to gravitate towards one versus the other, but it is important that we can integrate them both to improve our performance in all areas.

Any time we perform a bilateral lower extremity movement- such as standing up from a chair or static standing, we are using both sides of our brains. The right side of your brain controls the left side and the left side controls the right. Anytime we reach across our bodies – such as buckling a seat belt- we are using both sides of our brain. Bilateral integration is very important for completing functional tasks in a smooth and coordinated manner.

Keeping our brain healthy has impacts on our cognitive abilities, physical abilities, and how we process emotions. There are numerous studies that have been conducted to look at links between brain health and various habits and activities. Take a look here if you want to read some research and learn more about this topic:

Cognitive Health and Older Adults

If you would like to try a seated chair yoga sequence for the brain, you can find it here. Keep reading for some simple tips or take a look at this printable of 5 Chair Yoga Poses For The Brain

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Healthy Aging: Simple Tips To Keep The Mind And Body Engaged

If you are interested in some activities to help keep the body and the brain active, keep reading for simple ideas. Then, try out a couple of simple and quick exercises to help get you started with adding some brain powered movements to our day.

Simple Activity Ideas

There are several puzzle books available for various levels. They are readily available in various places. Take a look at these two examples here for some ideas:

Brain Health Puzzle Book

Memory Activity Book. 

Try a new hobby involving something creative

Start a journal- you may be interested in taking a look at these journals from Promptly Journals. They have many different themes to choose from, including  Autobiography Journals:

Join a class, club, or volunteer group to increase your socialization and learn something new

Teach someone one of your skills

Read different types of books-try something you would not normally choose

Listen to music at home, or if able attend live music 

Try some computer brain games-some free options include:




Stay connected with family and friends in any way that you can

Take a look at to find services and programs for healthy aging in your area that may be helpful to you or someone you care for

What Does That Mean for Movement and Yoga?

Here are 3 simple ways to engage both sides of the brain with movement that we can do right from our chair- and we don’t need any fancy equipment.

1. Add variations and mix it up:

The option to add variations to a yoga pose is a wonderful aspect of yoga. There is always something new to try. Take a simple knee extension exercise and change it up by straightening both legs at the same time. It now becomes our Staff Pose. You can give it a try here, and further add some coordination by pointing the toes on one foot as you flex the toes on the other foot. Or change up the arm movements in Mountain Pose.

  • Begin seated with a long spine and both feet planted firmly on the ground.
  • Arms are by your side.
  • On an inhale and with the thumbs pointing up, raise one arm up to shoulder height
  • As you exhale, release that arm back by your side as you raise the opposite arm to shoulder height
  • Continue to alternate.

2. Cross crawl movements:

Here, both sides of the body are completing alternating patterns of movement. One of the earliest examples of this is crawling. But think-walking, swimming, and bike riding. You can try this quick exercise:

  • Begin seated with a long spine and both feet planted firmly on the ground.
  • Arms are by your sides.
  • Inhale as you raise your left knee up in the air while at the same time you bring your right hand across the body to touch your left shoulder.
  • Alternate back and forth. 

3. Crossing midline:

Being able to bring one limb over an imaginary line down the middle of the body is extremely important for functional tasks. This can range from something that may seem simple- like turning the page in a book- to a more complex task such as bathing and washing one arm with the opposite hand. We can stimulate the brain with this simple yoga stretch:

A young women with long hair crossing her arms in front of her body and giving herself a hug.

  • Begin seated with a long spine and feet planted firmly in the floor.
  • Arms are by your sides with palms facing forward.
  • Inhale to raise your arms to shoulder height.
  • Exhale to bring opposite hand to opposite shoulder- give yourself a hug.
  • Inhale to open the arms to the sides. Repeat with the opposite arm on top.

Other activity options you may be interested in exploring include swimming, water aerobics, dancing and the stationary bike. There are so many possibilities if we keep an open mind and try something new. I know that there are many things that are just out of our control. But try to take a moment to think about what healthy aging means to you and see if you can find some ways to make it happen. As always, regular visits to your healthcare provider are crucial. If you would like some tips and resources for adding chair yoga to your day, keep reading!

Want More?

You may be interested in checking out these research articles for a deeper read:

Yoga Effects on Brain Health

Bilateral Motor Tasks and Neural Activation

Musicians Use Both Sides of Their Brains More Frequently Than Average People

Take a look at a fun chair yoga sequence with some of the elements we just discussed: Yoga for the Brain 

Or take a look at a quick chair yoga pose to help challenge your coordination: –Bird Dog

You can also visit The Peaceful Chair YouTube Channel for more videos

Take a look at the 7 Day Chair Yoga Challenge  or the One Week Chair Yoga Challenge for more beginner friendly chair yoga poses.

If you are a caregiver, you may be interested in Self Care For Caregivers

Finally, you may be interested in the 21 Day Mindfulness Practice Challenge.

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Disclaimer: The Peaceful Chair and strongly recommends that you consult with your physician before starting this or any exercise program.The information provided on this website is for informational purposes only and is not to be used in place of medical advice or information from your healthcare provider. Neither The Peaceful Chair, the, nor any of its contributors shall be held liable for any improper or incorrect use of the information described and/or contained herein and assumes no responsibility for anyone’s use of the information contained in any links, videos, or any content on this website.