Senior Health: Yoga for Bedridden Patients

Where does yoga for bedridden patients fit into the exercise-for-seniors-scene?

The importance of exercise in senior health features prominently. There are many types of exercise. Seniors are often recommended to try tai chi or yoga as well as water-based exercising. These are low impact exercises that can build body strength.

If a patient is bedridden for a period of time, there are many challenges. Exercising may not be the prime issue in the front of a patient’s mind, initially. Over time however, a patient might be ready to try exercising in a gentle manner.


An Introduction to Yoga

Stretching, breathing and meditation are combined in yoga, resulting in exercise that is an inner journey.

Yoga can lead to the following advantages for seniors:

  • increased flexibility
  • better balance
  • relaxation and reduced stress
  • better sleep
  • muscle tone regulation
  • mood stabilized

Muscle strength and tone is important for the general healthy functioning of the body and specifically to prevent falls in seniors. Some people find that yoga reduces lower back pain.


Yoga For Bedridden Patients

Meet Cherie Hotchkiss . A special person in her late 50’s, she has been bed-bound, on and off, for almost two decades. She became a yoga instructor prior to the onset of her illness. Knowing the value of yoga and how it can help a person she says: “Every BODY can do yoga.”

Here are some ideas to get you started with your journey into the world of yoga:

Medical Okay

Ask your doctor, surgeon, therapist or whichever relevant medical party it is, if you may begin doing yoga.

The idea behind any yoga, is to complement the therapy you are doing.

That means, first you need to do the therapy sessions you were assigned, including in-between-sessions work. If you have time and energy for more after that, then try yoga.

Get the Gear

If you can, wear soft and stretchy clothing. Some people suggest a close fit, so that you don’t have clothing flapping when you move. If need be, you can continue wearing what you have already. Mostly, yoga is performed barefoot or with socks on, so you are at an advantage there, if you are in bed. If you are mobile enough to get out or bed and down on the floor, then you will need a supportive mat. These are made out of PVC or natural materials.

Friend of Loved One to Help

The exercises included below and other exercises accessible in online video format can help you get into yoga. If you are unable to get out and about to go to a yoga class, these written or visual alternatives, can fill the gap temporarily.

Ask a friend or family member to read out the instructions to you, or hold your phone so that you can see what the online instructor is doing.

Don’t put yourself at risk by exercising alone. It is safer, at least in the beginning to exercise with someone else next to you.

A Certified Teacher

If possible it is better to find a certified teacher. Maybe someone can come to you? Find out at Yoga For Seniors which is a collection of yoga instructors who are trained in doing yoga for the mature population.

Bed Bound

Bed bound people can enjoy yoga  – An excellent series of yoga movements, and mental instructions when movements are not possible, are presented in Cherie’s site. The first three sections casually discuss how yoga helped her, then come the exercises.

Chair Yoga

Chair yoga is increasing in senior popularity. A senior who is a little frail, or has difficulties with coordination and balance, can work out in a chair. If you can twist, stretch and lean in a chair, try these chair yoga exercises presented by Healthline.


Special People For Whom Yoga is a Springboard to Success

We have seen that yoga for bedridden patients can be done. There are not that many studies on this topic, but there are a few more very special people who found that yoga took them out of their pain and limitations.

  • Donna Owens, who is the author of Yoga, My Bed & M.E.
  • Candace Moore, who is the founder of the website Yoga By Candace.
  • Cherie Hotchkiss, who is overcoming MS.
  • Eric Small, who has a yoga journal


Hope you meet with success in your efforts to get stronger!


yoga for bedridden patients is symbolized in a stack of stones

Stone stacks symbolize strength and patience.


Photo by Deniz Altindas on Unsplash

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