Adaptive Yoga: An Exercise Anyone Can Do

What comes to your mind when you hear the word “yoga”?  Perhaps you visualize a person folded in half or maybe you have an image of a lady with her leg wrapped around her neck like a scarf. Yoga can be very intimidating for some people, therefore they never try it. I am here to tell you that adaptive yoga is awesome and it’s an exercise that anyone can do.

You don’t have to be a flexible gumby, or a young healthy college student. You can adjust yoga to fit any body type and condition.What’s stopping you from practicing yoga?

Some of the reasons that keep people from trying yoga are:

  • joint problems
  • age
  • weight
  • chronic illness
  • inflexibility
  • and other physical limitations

These things do NOT need to stop you from benefiting from one of the best forms of exercise out there. Yoga is not only great for the physical body, but does wonders for your mental health as well. Yoga can change your life. It did mine.

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How yoga helps me

Almost 25 years ago, I was introduced to yoga. I had just been diagnosed with an autoimmune condition and I did not feel well. Exercising was something I loved to do, but couldn’t anymore because it totally wiped me out. I became depressed, overwhelmed and stressed out. ( I was not in a good place). There was a community yoga class advertised and I enrolled.

Now this was back in the day when yoga was not a popular thing. There were no yoga studios in town. This class was held in the hall of a community high school, lockers and all. Yep, not the most aesthetic place to practice yoga, but it was good enough to get me hooked. Hooked for life!

I continued to study yoga, and shortly after began teaching. Sharing yoga is my passion! Even though I experience Lupus and a few other health conditions, yoga keeps me going. I seriously don’t know where I would be without it, probably still lying on the couch with fatigue and pain. You can get the full story in my book.

Yoga helps me manage stress, reduces the inflammation in my body, and keeps the stiffness at bay. I can tell when I miss a few days. My body craves it. I used to practice and teach power and flow yoga, but my now my body resonates with a more gentle type of yoga.

So what is so great about adaptive yoga?

Let a few of my senior yoga students tell you why they love yoga.

1-  Can slow the effects of stress and aging

It is pretty much a given that yoga is good for stress, right? Well here is some interesting research that shows how reducing stress by doing yoga can reduce the negative effects of aging.

Researchers measured biomarkers of cellular aging and stress before and after the 12-week yoga program and found that yoga slowed down markers of cellular aging and lowered measures of inflammation in the body.

2-  Increases flexibility

Most people think you have to BE flexible to practice yoga, but it’s actually a benefit that comes from doing yoga. Stretching the body is so healthy. Stretching keeps the muscles flexible, strong, and healthy, and we need that flexibility to maintain a range of motion in the joints. Without it, the muscles shorten and become tight. That puts you at risk for joint pain, strains, and muscle damage. Stretching just makes you feel good!

3-  It’s non-competitive

When you practice yoga, it’s just you and your mat. There is no one else to impress or compare to. At least that is how it’s supposed to be. I encourage my students to listen to their body and not to compare themselves with anyone. Only you can know what’s good for your body and if you press further than that you won’t be productive.

4-  Can be done almost anywhere

Just roll out your mat and do your thing. You can practice yoga at home, in a studio, out in nature, on the beach, or in the airport waiting area. (My husband has been known to find a corner at the airport between flights where he can do a few poses to relieve sciatic pain between flights).

5-  Increases body tone and endurance

Yoga is a great way to tone your body and increase endurance. Most people are very surprised when they first practice yoga how much strength and endurance it does take. What a great way to build muscle. Depending on what type of yoga you are doing, yoga can even give you a great cardiovascular workout as well.

6-  Improves mood

Yoga is a natural way to increase serotonin and other mood enhancing hormones. The production and serotonin is believed to play a major role in happiness. I think we all could use a little more happiness. The breathing that you do in yoga is also beneficial for improving your mood. I don’t think there has ever been a time when I felt worse after practicing yoga.

7-  Can be adapted to fit almost any physical condition

This is what I love about adaptive yoga. It doesn’t really matter what you are experiencing in your body, there is usually a way to adapt a pose to make it suitable for you. Even if you are in a wheelchair, you can move and exercise those parts of your body that do move. If you have limitations, a chair can be used.

8-  Can be done at any age

I teach a weekly chair yoga class at the senior center in my community, and it’s amazing what those folks can do with the assistance of a chair. My oldest student is a 100 year old woman. What an inspiration she is to me.


Even children can benefit from yoga. Kids love yoga. So if you feel tied down because you have children at your feet all day, have them join you on the mat!

Find a yoga class that works for you

I encourage you to find a yoga class that suits you and get started! If you haven’t ever done yoga, find a beginners class. Keep in mind that there are a lot of types of yoga out there. Don’t get discouraged if the class you take isn’t your cup of tea. Keep looking until you find one that suits you.  Some like a more vigorous intense practice, and some enjoy a more restorative class. Mix it up and explore.

I also recommend trying different styles and teachers. Some will resonate with you and some won’t.

Some yoga resources

YOUTUBE Channel – Gentle Yoga with Jan

One of my passions is to share yoga and make it available to everyone, especially to those with limitations. I recently started a Youtube channel that focuses on a more gentle type of yoga. There are a few videos up and running right now.  These first videos focus on proper alignment and benefits of specific poses.

I will also be listing classes and tutorials for those of you who need a little more assistance using a chair.

So excited to get this up and running. I hope you will join me.

Adaptive Yoga with a Chair – DVD & Book

This is a DVD and Book that I have available on Amazon.


In the Adaptive Yoga book and DVD I teach you a modified sun salutation. One version of the salutations is totally done in the chair and the other version is a standing salutation using the assistance of a chair. What I love about the book, is that you can hang it from the chair so you can follow the illustrated steps and exercises.

So whether you have a healthy, toned body, or you have a few health issues, you CAN adapt yoga to fit YOU!

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I’m excited to connect with some of you on the yoga mat. I hope you’ll join me!

Please send me a note if you have any questions or comments!






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Jan Howell

Whether it’s a new recipe, a fun craft, or some handy tips for your garden and home, I hope to empower and inspire you with skills that you can use to create joy, improved health, and to do it in a simple way.

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