In our senior years, we face the challenge of staying fit while avoiding fall injuries and joint problems. Yoga for seniors, particularly aqua Yoga, as well as other water-based exercises, can be the perfect solution to this problem.
Yogis are adding modern “extras” to the ancient practice, such as aerial silks and free weights. Meditation and yoga in water put us back in touch with our roots and promote a number of positive effects.
The sight of people stretching in pools while wearing swimwear is not uncommon anymore. The popularity of aqua yoga is slowly picking up after aqua aerobics and aqua circuits, particularly among seniors who are nursing injuries.
Of course, if you haven’t been on this magical road before, getting started on yoga for seniors can be challenging. There is no need to worry, though, because this article will show you how to get started with aqua yoga.
What Is Aqua Yoga?
Aqua yoga is a relatively new form of yoga where the asanas are performed in water. With Aqua Yoga, you can improve your strength, flexibility, and range of motion while reducing the impact on your joints. The pool can be warm, or you can use open, natural water like the sea.
The temperature plays a vital role in aqua yoga. Since the water is warm, there will be an increase in blood circulation, contributing to the effects.
What Are the Benefits of Aqua Yoga for Seniors?
Since this form of yoga is a gentle and low-impact activity, it may be more accessible to seniors who struggle with physical activity.
Like any other aqua exercise, postures are often tweaked according to what is possible in the water.
Yoga postures and principles are adapted to an aquatic environment using yoga’s breathing and mindfulness practices.
Water yoga provides the following benefits:
- Calms the Body and Mind
- Reduces Stress and Anxiety
- Strengthens Your Body
- Relieves Aches and Pains
- Improves Overall Health
- Stimulates the lymphatic system
- Strengthens the whole body
- Enhances flexibility and range of motion
Water’s buoyancy eases the strain on joints during some asanas, such as balancing or standing postures, because the body’s weight is lifted from the joints, making it ideal for seniors. This may also help the yogis find their optimal stretch.
Besides being physically beneficial, aqua yoga also brings many mental, emotional, and spiritual benefits. Many yoga practitioners believe that bathing in water helps with pain relief, cultivates a deeper connection with the physical body, and allows us to go with the flow and become more absorbed in the experiences.
Here, we look at some benefits aqua yoga can provide for seniors who like to stay active.
Works Out the Heart Muscles
While aqua yoga is a low-impact exercise, it is suitable for raising the heart rate because it involves a water-based modified form of traditional aerobics. It is more important than ever to exercise our heart muscles and improve circulation as we age.
By using water as resistance, exercise offers additional benefits for balance, coordination, and mobility due to the hydrostatic pressure of water across the body surface. Aqua yoga can reduce the risk of heart disease with its light aerobic capacity, which is especially important for seniors.
Enhances Balance and Coordination
With age comes diminished coordination, but aqua yoga – along with the water’s supportive properties for the body – can help reverse this. Seniors with poor coordination can continue to develop their balance, strength, and physical control in safer, more supportive environments using balance exercises.
Easy on the Joints
Aqua yoga is easier on joints than running and on-land aerobics. As water is buoyant, it supports the body’s weight and reduces the effects of gravity so that the person exercising can land easily. Aqua yoga has a protective effect on more delicate joints, tendons, and ligaments because of the reduced impact on the knees, hips, back, and ankles. This reduces injuries and damages such as muscle soreness, stress fractures, and even broken bones.
Reduces Risk of Injury
A significant risk associated with exercise for seniors is falling, which can occur when balance declines and bones become fragile. This restriction is quite pronounced for some seniors to the extent that it limits their exercise options. Even when seniors lose their balance in the water, the supportive quality of the water keeps them from falling.
Weight Loss and Metabolism
The burden of chronic disease is growing in Canada due to increases in obesity and overweight populations. Seniors, who are more susceptible to chronic diseases, should look at staying active as a weight-control strategy. Researchers have found that aqua yoga and other water-based physical activities can boost metabolism.
Simply walking in water can burn more calories than regular walking because water offers more resistance than air.
Remember that older adults who wish to lose weight should pay attention to their age and take healthy weight charts for seniors into consideration.
Builds Muscle Mass and Strength
Aqua yoga gives seniors a chance to build muscle mass or slow down the decline of muscle mass that occurs with age. This form of yoga, although gentle, can increase the strength of seniors.
Recovery from Injury
aqua yoga can be an appropriate form of exercise for seniors recovering from a fall or undergoing rehabilitation after an operation such as a hip replacement. By staying active in the water, you can maintain your physical fitness without the heavy impact and strain associated with land-based activities. If you follow your doctor’s recommendations, aqua yoga and water-based exercises such as walking, arms reach, leg raises, and swimming can be painless and restorative.
Aqua yoga offers a way to stay active for those with arthritis and other chronic joint and muscle conditions. Water’s supportive nature reduces the stress on joints and allows the body to move freely, improving flexibility, strength, endurance, and overall fitness.
In addition to offering pain relief, exercising in heated pools can benefit those with chronic joint or tissue conditions.
Positive health outcomes also come with healthy social interactions among seniors. Taking Aqua yoga classes as a group can provide a socialization benefit that motivates people of all ages to try out new exercise routines.
In addition to exercising with others, seniors also have the opportunity to form new friendships that go beyond classes. The social aspect of group classes can also make you more likely to stick with an exercise program, so Aqua yoga might be a good choice if you like working out and meeting others.
6-Pose Aqua Yoga Sequence for Seniors
Here is an Aqua Yoga routine for seniors, including six poses that bring out the numerous benefits of this refreshing exercise:
North Star Pose
We start our practice in North Star Pose with an inhale, as this is the way water and its power reach us. You should stand with your feet wider than hip-width apart and hold your hands together in prayer over your head.
Standing Side Bend
Yoga practitioners use standing side bends to stretch and tone their obliques. When you perform this move in the water, you have to tighten your core muscles to remain stable. If you’re up for a challenge, you can perform this bend with both arms raised. Hold on one side for 3 to 5 breaths, then release and switch to the other.
Warrior II Pose
Bend on your right leg and open your arms wide as you land in Warrior II while exhaling. Grounded through your feet, connect with the earth. Root yourself deep into the earth beneath the water.
Flowing Warrior Pose
Let your upper body and arms move as if they are seaweed as you keep your lower body planted. Feel the watery nature of your spine.
Shift your weight into your front foot as you breathe deeply. Coming into Half Moon Pose, let your back leg float effortlessly in the water. Explore the connection between the moon and the water flowing through your spine by reaching back, taking your lifted foot into your hand.
Come to rest in a floating Savasana by releasing the pose. After a workout session, savasana relieves physical and mental tension.
Aqua Yoga Class Preparation
If you are new to the class, you should arrive early so the instructors can give you some tips. Let your instructor know if you have any injuries so they can offer proper modifications.
The Bottom Line
The best results are achieved by doing water aerobics two times a week. You will also have plenty of time between classes to relax and recover. Moreover, this is an ideal exercise method for aging adults as it helps them maintain their health at their level of comfort and functionality.