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Chair Yoga, Stretching for Seniors 

Paula O'Connell shares her passion for keeping our seniors fit and healthy with chair yoga.

Chair yoga for seniors

We could all do with a bit of help staying on top of our health and wellness, particularly as we age. Thankfully, there are people like Paula O’Connell, founder and operator of Chair Yoga for Seniors, helping seniors maintain their fitness as they age with accessible, low-impact workouts. 

Paula’s “Chair Yoga for Seniors” opened in 2018 and operates out of their St Ives Studio. As a result of the COVID-19 Pandemic, Chair Yoga for Seniors also offers Zoom classes so that seniors can engage from home and all around the country. We caught up with Paula to learn more about her amazing local business and the service she provides for our seniors.

What was the inspiration behind chair yoga for seniors?

Yoga for Seniors originated from a personal need when my father, in search of gentle exercises, couldn't find suitable options locally. Drawing from my 30 years of dedicated yoga practice, I recognised the potential of adapting yoga to meet the needs of seniors who don’t want to get on the floor.

After obtaining the necessary qualifications, I established Chair Yoga classes in St Ives, offering two classes a week. The program has since expanded onto Zoom, connecting with seniors all across Australia.

What kind of yoga classes do you offer?

I offer both in-person classes conducted in my home yoga studio and virtual classes through Zoom. 

How is yoga for seniors different from traditional yoga?

Chair Yoga for Seniors is a modified practice primarily utilising chairs. While most poses are performed seated, I introduce challenges with standing and balance poses. I recognise individual needs and provide seated alternatives for those with stability issues or knee concerns.

Paula O'Connell's tips to stay fit and healthy in their later years?

I emphasise the importance of staying active to prevent physical decline, reminding my seniors that "you'll lose it if you don't use it." Beyond physical exercise, yoga introduces mindfulness, benefiting individuals navigating significant life challenges. Chair Yoga also helps calm the mind and encourages being present in the moment.

Paula O'Connell leads chair yoga class

You offer face-to-face and Zoom classes. How do the two compare?

Convenience is a key factor in regular class attendance. Zoom provides a solution for those with busy schedules, eliminating travel time. It also accommodates participants who have relocated, ensuring continuity in their practice and for those who live remotely. However, face-to-face classes remain crucial for those who are not tech-savvy, relying on the personal interaction inherent in in-person sessions.

Who are your typical participants?

My diverse group of students includes individuals ranging from 60 to 95 years old. Some, like a 60-year-old working professional, integrate chair yoga as a refreshing break in their day. The majority, however, are independent men and women in their 70s, with varying levels of physical ability. A few have medical challenges such as Parkinson's Disease and Multiple Sclerosis but find particular benefits in the classes for slowing the progression of their conditions.

Paula O'Connell talks about inclusivity 

Certainly! In addition to the core aspects of Chair Yoga for Seniors, it's worth noting the supportive community that has naturally evolved within the classes. Beyond the physical benefits, the students often form connections, sharing experiences and encouragement. The inclusivity of the program ensures that regardless of age, fitness level or location, everyone can find a place in our virtual or in-person sessions. 

Moreover, the adaptability of Chair Yoga makes it accessible to individuals with various health conditions, promoting a holistic approach to well-being. The journey of Chair Yoga for Seniors extends beyond the mat, fostering a sense of camaraderie and mindfulness that resonates with our students across Australia.

For those looking to book a class or to find out more head to the Chair Yoga for Seniors website: 

You can also visit their studio at 1 Ikara Place, St Ives – for opening hours and class schedules, see the website


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