Maintaining physical activity as you age has several health benefits. Keeping a regular exercise routine that includes movement, like yoga for seniors, can improve sleep, balance, coordination, and flexibility.
It is much more than twisting your body into hard-to-reach poses, though. Participating in a yoga practice is a great way to improve your health, make personal connections, and help you with mindfulness.
Benefits of Yoga
Yoga is one of the best ways to incorporate breathing, stretching, mobility, and strength. Yoga is a form of bodyweight exercise that focuses on your breath and mind meditation while keeping active.
You can find a wide variety of movements ranging from simple to complex, depending on any previous yoga experience so beginning yoga for seniors is doable. There are several different styles of yoga that can help with many health problems or keep you from experiencing issues.
Some of the more common benefits of yoga include:
- Great for stretching sore and stiff muscles
- Corrects bad posture
- Can help to relieve body tension and stress
- Boosts mood
- Improves flexibility and strength
- Can help reduce back or joint aches or pains
- Aids in relaxation and sleep
- Fosters better balance and body awareness
- Increases blood circulation
- Enhances respiratory functions
- Improves bone density for stronger bones
- Can lower blood pressure
- Improves muscle tone
- Helps increase mindfulness
- Fosters personal connections
This low-impact exercise is ideal for any age, especially for the aging population. Even if you have never done yoga before, it is never too late to start. Yoga is a terrific activity for anyone, including those with injuries or mobility restrictions.
Yoga is Much More Than Twisting Poses
When first thinking of yoga, many individuals will imagine someone who contorts into a difficult sitting or standing position. While there are challenging poses that will encourage you to try testing the body’s limits, yoga is so much more than that.
Yoga for Breathing
Many styles of yoga will encourage you to match your breath with your movements. Using proper breathing techniques while performing exercise is essential. Breathing in will help give your muscles the oxygen they need while improving oxygenated blood circulation.
With controlled breathing techniques used in yoga, individuals can improve their cardiovascular health. By focusing on your breathing, you can help lower your blood pressure and improve your sleep.
Yoga for Mindfulness
Mindfulness is a crucial factor in many yoga practices. Keeping your mind present and open to your current activity helps reduce stress and anxiety. Many yoga methods incorporate deliberate mindfulness techniques as a way to help you relax and unwind.
Using yoga for mindfulness awareness can increase your meditative state, helping you become present to your body to allow and accept movement limitations.
Types of Yoga
There are several types of yoga available, so there is no worry that aging adults will have to bend and contort into uncomfortable and impossible positions. Because of the versatility yoga gives, there are modifications for any pose to suit individuals with limited mobility, injuries, or other health issues.
The popular styles of yoga you will find include:
Not all of these types are beneficial when looking at yoga for older adults. Finding the appropriate style is essential when you are looking at yoga for seniors. Surprisingly though, you can integrate almost all types into an exercise regime for anyone older.
Anusara is a modern spin of the classic Hatha yoga method. It concentrates on movement and flow while opening up the heart center. Its cornerstone is the heart-body-mind connection. It can be a terrific way to enter a regular yoga practice for anyone with no previous experience.
Some recognize this style as Power Yoga. It can be physically strenuous, using continuous flow to move through challenging poses. This type is not for beginners and may not be the best choice for seniors or older adults with mobility problems.
Bikram is also known for being Hot Yoga in many circles. Typically, the room temperature is at 105° and 40% humidity for the practice. While this environment can be helpful for stiff and aching muscles, individuals should be careful to avoid overheating during activities.
One of the best choices for anyone starting a yoga regime, Hatha focuses on a wide variety of poses that you can modify for many levels. This type is usually slower-paced than other yoga styles, giving beginners the chance to get the poses correct before moving on.
A style that can help seniors work through poses slowly with precision. Although it is not the best place to start a yoga practice, those older adults who are familiar with yoga could benefit greatly from completing a regular Iyengar practice.
This gentle vinyasa flow style focuses on Hindu spiritual teaching methods. The poses align with their earthly principles and cover the five tenets of Jivamukti philosophy and yoga methods. Jivamukti can be a beneficial practice if the individual accepts the associated principles and philosophy.
This form is a fast-paced yoga style that incorporates flowing poses with breathing exercises. Kundalini helps to release any negative energy residing in the body, mainly around the lower spine. It would not be the best style for older adults or seniors who are new to the practice.
For seniors who have trouble relaxing or falling asleep, Restorative yoga can be an ideal solution. Individuals spend more time in poses while using props such as blankets or eye pillows to help boost relaxation. This type of beginner yoga for seniors is ideal for helping relieve stress and tension after a long day.
Vinyasa yoga was adapted from Ashtanga yoga and can be challenging for many individuals. It focuses on matching movement with breathing. Instructors can incorporate some modifications so anyone can complete the practice, but it could still be tricky as yoga for older adults.
This form of yoga practice is very slow-paced. It consists of holding poses for longer periods than other methods, letting gravity help do the flexibility work. Extended time in position can give extra help with stiff muscles and sore tissues, making it a terrific choice in yoga for seniors.
Yoga for Limited Mobility
Not all seniors will have the ability to grab a mat and get to work on becoming more flexible and healthy. Many individuals have debilitating arthritis or other severe mobility issues. These health conditions do not have to stop them from participating in some adaptive yoga styles.
Finding the best method of alternative beginner yoga for seniors can still provide a wealth of benefits. Two adaptive styles of yoga include:
- Chair yoga
- Water yoga
With Chair Yoga, individuals perform various poses while sitting in a chair or using the chair for support. It is a gentle method to improve flexibility and strength while not causing stress on joints or limbs.
For those who cannot stand for a long time or have problems getting up and down from a floor mat, Chair Yoga is the ideal solution.
Water Yoga incorporates movements while in water to help minimize any impact on the joints. It is a terrific beginner yoga for seniors to try that creates virtually no stress on the body while building strength and improving flexibility.
Water creates gentle resistance, making any movement a terrific way to strengthen muscle tone without using weights. Water Yoga is a fantastic alternative for anyone recovering from surgery or who needs extremely low-impact movement activity.
What Makes Yoga Great
Yoga is the ideal exercise for several reasons. Not only does it provide a wide range of benefits, but there are many positive aspects to this ancient exercise regime.
Can Be Done Anywhere
There are yoga poses that you can do absolutely anywhere. Whether you are outside, in a recreation room, a swimming pool, or even your bedroom, you can find many ways to help build your flexibility and tone muscles.
Needs Very Little Equipment
All you really need to participate in yoga is an excellent non-slip surface. Some individuals prefer to complete poses while barefoot on a mat, while others wear non-slip running shoes on a floor or outdoors. As long as there is no risk of falling, you can perform the movements as you see fit.
There are props you can use for yoga poses, but they are not necessary. Some helpful pieces individuals use include:
Some individuals find using yoga bricks to support their body helps relieve any stress on their joints while holding a pose. Those who need balance support may require a chair, but on average, yoga is virtually equipment-free.
Contrary to what many believe, you do not need special clothing to participate in a yoga class. While many companies make millions of dollars from consumers with specialized yoga gear, all you need is some loose-fitting clothing that allows movement. If you are not using a non-slip mat, it is ideal that you are barefoot or use non-slip shoes to avoid losing your balance while moving through poses.
Yoga is For All Ages
It is never too late to start practicing yoga. Even if you have no previous exercise experience, you can start with a beginner yoga class for seniors and work your way through poses as you gain strength and mobility. There is no shame in trying something new for better health.
Brings People Together
Not only will yoga help bring more awareness to your body and your physical limitations, but it can help bring people together for a common goal. Yoga classes for seniors help gather individuals who want to be healthier and provide a terrific place for them to make personal connections.
Where to Start
Before starting any exercise routine, you should consult your healthcare practitioner. You must be aware of any limitations you may have to avoid injuries or issues later.
If you want to start with beginner yoga for seniors, you should consider an in-person instructor-led class. This way, you will have the help of an expert to guide you through the poses and provide any modifications that you may still need to maintain a good routine.
Yoga DVDs and yoga apps are great for those with experience and good balance. That said, seniors who may have balance concerns should not try yoga on their own for the first time with a DVD or other media source without the help of someone. There is a risk of injury when trying out any new exercise regime, so it is best to visit a class where proper instruction is available.
If you are not sure where to start looking, you may want to try talking to friends or family members. You may be surprised by how many people you already know that participate in yoga for seniors classes. Local health clubs or gyms, senior centers, or community halls are great places to search for yoga for older adults.
Keep an Open Mind
When starting any new exercise regime, you must keep an open mind and explore everything it offers. Yoga can provide a wealth of benefits if you complete a regular practice as little as twice a week. Don’t worry if you are not able to commit to a rigorous exercise schedule. Remember, any amount of positive movement will help produce the benefits you are seeking.
Listen to your body and be conscious of your limitations. You do not want to force yourself into positions that can carry a risk of injury or harm. Once you master a pose, you can move on to more complex movements, giving your body a challenge while increasing your health. If you have any questions or concerns, talk to a certified instructor for guidance.
Do not feel defeated if you aren’t able to progress as quickly as others. Each individual is unique, and you should perform movements that are best for you. Once you begin the habit of daily or weekly yoga, you may find it hard to stop. Feeling better and moving better are excellent side effects of a consistent yoga routine.