Yoga for Seniors: How to Get Started and the Benefits

In Sanskrit, the word yoga means ‘to unite.’ Yoga is a study of life, the body, breath, mind, intellect, memory, and emotions. Yoga refreshes the mind and body, strengthens the muscles, and keeps the inner organs and the hormonal system balanced. That is why people of all ages should practice yoga. Yoga can contribute to a more balanced and healthier lifestyle for seniors.

There is a wide array of yoga styles available. To choose the perfect style, one will rely on their expectations and ability level. People with certain health conditions, such as sciatica, should be approach yoga carefully and slowly. This article will talk about yoga for seniors and its benefits, and finally, mention beginning yoga for seniors.

Is There an Age Limit for Yoga?

You can do yoga at any age — it’s just a case of picking the type of yoga that works for you and working within your abilities. Yoga can keep you young, stronger and more flexible as you age, as it helps you maintain flexibility through low-impact exercise for seniors.

Most people start yoga in their 70s, and many say that they wish they had begun earlier. There are yoga classes for everyone. Yoga is an exercise that anyone can enjoy, from childhood to your later years.

Benefits of Yoga for Seniors

Several studies have suggested that yoga for older adults is one of the best forms of exercise. Yoga helps seniors lose weight, and it is one of the exercises that can wake up your body and brain. With regular practice and a proper class, seniors can boost their strength, agility, flexibility and mood. Some of the benefits of yoga for seniors include:

  • Reduce stress: With yoga, you can let go of the tension your holding in your chest and shoulders, as well as possibly reducing your level of hypertension, as well as your need for many daily medications. Yoga can reduce anxiety, lowering your heart rate and blood pressure, and help you breathe easier as well.
  • Strengthened bones: Yoga for seniors may help prevent osteoporosis, an ageing condition that causes bones to become weak or brittle. Maturity decreases the amount of new bone that can form due to shrinkage of the bone.
  • Improved sleeping habits: for seniors with a sleep disorder, yoga is a great activity. The fact that yoga can be relaxing for seniors can result in a more sound sleep, which is popular among those in their later years.
  • Reduce the risk for depression: Practicing yoga can make a person feel more at ease; the combination of breathing, movement and meditation can also result in an overall sense of appreciation.
  • Enhanced balance, flexibility, mobility and strength: Due to the slow, measured movement during yoga poses, a person becomes more balanced and mobile, reducing the risk of falling. Falls are the leading cause of injury in the elderly, so yoga offers seniors the tools to improve their mobility to get around more safely.
  • Reduce aches and pains: Regardless of physical limitations, yoga can help ease the aches and pains that accompany ageing. Yoga can be beneficial for those suffering from osteoarthritis, teaching you how to breathe through chronic pain.
  • Weight loss: researches show that yoga can help seniors lose weight or at least reduce weight gain.

What Type of Yoga Is Best for Seniors?

Yoga for Seniors

What kind of yoga is most appropriate? It will depend on your age, current physical fitness level, and physical ability. If you are starting or have lost significant muscle tone and flexibility, you should start very gently with Hatha yoga. Following are eight yoga types that may suit your needs:

  • Hatha: Hatha is more a generic term than a style, encompassing all forms of yoga that focus on physical postures. Typically, hatha yoga classes offer a series of postures, mainly seated or standing. Stretching and breathing are typically the focus, not heightening your heart rate. Hatha yoga is, therefore, predominantly what’s recommended for beginners.
  • Iyengar: With a strong emphasis on proper form, Iyengar yoga is methodical and precise. Practitioners are advised to use props like blocks, straps, and incline boards to assist them in getting into the correct alignment. This style of yoga is good for seniors with arthritis or chronic conditions as props allow for all kinds of modifications.
  • Restorative: The goal of restorative yoga is to release tension without stretching passively. Pros are used to support the body completely, and poses may last up to 10 minutes. Restorative is the best type of yoga for the elderly who want to cultivate relaxation and contentment.
  • Yin: Yin yoga is similar to restorative yoga; it’s slow and emphasizes holding poses for a long time. The significant difference between restorative and yin yoga is restorative requires no active stretching, while yin involves stretching deep connective tissues. By practicing yin yoga regularly, you can relieve stiffness and regain flexibility.
  • Vinyasa: This is a general term for yoga styles in which the movement aligns with the breath to form a continuous series of motions. Vinyasa emphasizes the transition between postures as much as the poses themselves. Pacing can vary greatly, but routines usually are quick and fluid. Senior members of the population who are fit and able to practice Vinyasa yoga may enjoy the physical challenges.
  • Ashtanga: Ashtanga is fast-paced and physically demanding and involves a specific set of poses that must perform the same way every time. Many say that Ashtanga yoga is the best type of yoga for weight loss because it is an intense, acrobatic activity that boosts your heart rate and circulation.
  • Bikram: Bikram rooms are heated to more than 100 degrees with 40 percent humidity, so you sweat buckets. However, overheating can be dangerous if you have severe symptoms of high or low blood pressure, heart problems, or other health concerns.

Read More: Face Yoga for a More Youthful Face

Beginning Yoga for Seniors

There is a wide range of easy poses to choose from, including sitting, lying down, and chair yoga. Here are a few poses of beginning yoga for seniors.

Mountain (Tadasana)

Although Tadasana is the starting position for all standing poses, it is helpful to practice Tadasana as a pose by itself. Mountain Poses improve posture and balance.

Yoga for Seniors

Mountain Pose Instruction:

  • Put your feet slightly apart so that your big toes are touching. Extend your toes and the balls of your feet, then slowly rock back and forth. Reduce this swaying to a standstill by balancing your weight evenly on the feet.
  • Press your shoulder blades into your back, then widen them so that they discharge down your back.
  • Lower your lower front ribs without pushing them forward.
  • Lift your sternum straight up toward the ceiling. Spread your collarbones. Hang your arms beside the torso.
  • Balance your head in the center of your pelvis, with your chin parallel to the floor, your throat soft, and your tongue wide and flat on your tongue’s floor. Soften your eyes.
  • Stay in the pose for 30 seconds to 1 minute while breathing smoothly.

Tree (Vrikshasana)

The tree pose will strengthen your lower body and help improve your balance. You can do it with either your back against a wall or while sitting in a chair.

Tree Pose Instruction:

  • With your left foot planted on your mat, open your right hip and place your right foot (onto the floor, a block, your opposite ankle, calf, or inner thigh).
  • Find your balance by clasping your hands together in prayer at your heart. Once you feel stable and settled, open your arms out to the side so that they are parallel to the floor. You can turn your hand upward to feel energized or downward to feel grounded.
  • Keep your hips square to the front and your lower body stable while twisting your upper body to the right.
  • Hold for three to five breaths, noticing any changes in your energy on a return inhalation, then release.
  • Repeat on the opposite side.

Tabletop Position

The table is a great starting point or transition point for many floor postures, and it helps realign the spine and lengthen it.

Yoga for Seniors

Table Pose Instruction:

  • Come to the floor on your hands and knees. Bring your knees about hip-width apart and the feet directly behind your knees. Put your palms directly under your shoulders with your fingers pointing forward.
  • Looking down between your fingers, allow the back to be flat, and then press from the palms towards the ears to slightly lower the shoulders. Push the tailbone towards the back, and the head crown towards the front wall, to lengthen the spine.
  • Breathe deeply and hold for 1-3 breaths.

Cat Pose

The yoga cat pose makes your spine flexible while strengthening your abdomen.

Cat Pose Instruction:

  • Stand on your hands and knees in a “tabletop” position, your elbows should be perpendicular, and your wrists should be parallel to the floor. Your head should be in a neutral position with your eyes looking at the floor.
  • Keep your shoulders and knees in place as you exhale, rounding your spine toward the ceiling. Inhale deeply, releasing your head toward the floor, but don’t force your chin toward your chest.
  • Back off your hands and knees, and come back to the “tabletop” position.
  • Often this pose is used in combination with Cow Pose on the exhale.

Cow Pose

This yoga pose leads to a gentle massage of the torso and stomach while stretching the front part of the body.

Yoga for Seniors

Cow Pose Instruction:

  • Get your hands and knees in the “tabletop” position. Make sure your knees are directly beneath your hips, and your wrists, elbows, and shoulders are straight and perpendicular to the floor. Center your head in a neutral position, eyes looking at the floor.
  • While inhaling, lift your head to look straight ahead, raise your chest to reach the ceiling, and let your belly sink toward the floor.
  • Inhale, returning to “tabletop” position on all fours.

Child’s Pose (Balarama)

This pose helps relieve back tension, stretch the spine and hips, and calm the mind. It is commonly used as a resting position.

Yoga for Seniors

Child’s Pose Instruction:

  • Standing with your toes together and knees hip-width apart, rest your palms on top of your thighs.
  • On an exhalation, lower your body between your knees. Place your hands side by side next to your body with your palms facing up.
  • Relax your shoulders toward the ground. Hold this pose for as long as you need.

Chair Yoga for Seniors

Chair yoga is an excellent exercise for seniors. Chair yoga for seniors refers to different ways that yoga poses can be practiced while seated. These modifications allow for yoga practice by people who can’t stand and lack the mobility to move easily from standing to sitting to lying down. This type of yoga is also excellent for those who need a quick break from office work. Most of the postures have the same basic body mechanics. When seated on a chair, you can do twists, hip stretches, forward bends, and mild backbends. In addition to the fitness benefits of stretching, chair yoga participants enjoy improved muscle tone, better breathing habits, reduced stress, better sleep, and improved moods.

Can You Lose Weight Doing Chair Yoga?

Due to many reasons maintaining a healthy weight and BMI range is important to seniors. Weight loss for the elderly is possible through chair yoga. Chair yoga has all the benefits of regular yoga practice, including muscle toning, a sense of wellbeing, and improved breathing patterns. There are also some beneficial trending diets for seniors that can help you lose weight.

What’s the Best Time for Yoga?

It is recommended to practice yoga early in the morning or late in the evening. Morning yoga sessions can be pretty active. The best course of action is to naturally fit it into your schedule rather than miss out by being too rigid or idealistic. Integral yoga employs: You should always mix and match the necessary practices to enhance your spiritual awareness.

How Many Days Should I Do Yoga in a Week?

The amount you need to practice varies from person to person and depends on your goals:

  • To start, if you want to gain the benefits of yoga – including improved concentration, strength and flexibility – is to schedule 2-3 half-hour sessions each week.
  • A ten-minute session before bed can improve your sleep.
  • To improve flexibility, one class a week may be enough. However, faster progress is possible if you practice more.
  • Reversing bone loss due to osteoporosis takes 10 minutes per day in addition to daily practice to notice any improvement.

Which Yoga Exercises Should Seniors Avoid?

Seniors can still do yoga through adaptive practices, such as chair yoga, where all the stretches are done sitting up or with the support of a chair. Water yoga is even more beneficial, as the body is less weighted and can move more easily underwater.

If you have arthritis, yoga can be an excellent complement to your treatment, but be careful when choosing a class. Look for instructors who have experience working with people with arthritis. Many people with arthritis find that yoga significantly improves their range of motion. If you suffer from spinal disc disorders or glaucoma, be sure to speak to your doctor before attempting yoga. Twisting poses and inversions are especially dangerous for those with these conditions.

Final Words

If you’re thinking about trying out yoga, make sure to do your research before getting involved. Many senior centers offer yoga classes specifically for seniors, with instructors who will be well-versed in the techniques most beneficial to make yoga an ideal exercise for seniors. For beginners, choose a gentle class that’s easy to do and if any poses cause you pain or discomfort, know your limits. No matter how fit you are, seniors will benefit from yoga just as much as young adults.

Use this article only as educational material. You must consult your doctor and/or specialist prior to using it. Read more about this disclaimer.

Source yogajournal greatseniorliving greatseniorliving
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5 months ago

Yoga is a miracle. I guess it’s one of the few things that is right with this world. I had insomnia, back pain and a few other things for more than a year and yoga is the only thing that has helped me. I started with Hatha yoga in 2017, and since 2019 I do Ashtanga yoga five times a week.

Loretta Jk
Loretta Jk
Reply to  Yogi
4 months ago

I’m happy for you. I wanna do yoga too, but I don’t have any experience. did you start with a trainer? are yoga apps helpful?

Reply to  Yogi
4 months ago

Well done! I really want to start exercising. I’ve never had the habit of working out daily. Do you think it’s good if I start with yoga? And if it is, do you have any suggestions?

5 months ago

I’ve started doing yoga recently, and I can already see the positive effects it has on my health and lifestyle. I think it is one of the best possible ways of exercising for people my age since it improves flexibility and balance and helps us with meditation practice.

5 months ago

Yoga is my favourite exercise since it is a low-impact workout, and I can do it in my home. I have a problem with my legs, and I use a wheelchair most of the time. I really appreciate yoga.  

5 months ago

As 70s old I love yoga. I think nothing more beneficial than Yoga. Because when you are doing yoga, you always focus on your body parts and breath. So it can be useful for every part of your body. Also, you can control your weight with yoga, which makes you happy and will satisfy your moods. So don’t waste your time and register in yoga classes.

Reply to  Ronald
4 months ago

I totally agree. I’ve been doing Yoga for 5 years, and I don’t think anything can help me as it does. It has a great effect on our lifestyle. But lately, I’ve noticed not many people see it as a serious form of exercise. I don’t know why.