No matter your age, you can derive a host of benefits from practicing yoga, including reducing stress, anxiety, depression and your risk for health issues. As we age, our muscles tend to stiffen, joints have reduced range of motion, and we are more susceptible to arthritis, heart disease, and other health problems. For seniors, yoga can slow the aging process by maintaining muscle flexibility, strengthening muscles and joints, and improving alertness.
Improving Physical and Mental Health
Practicing yoga two to three times weekly can make you feel better both physically and mentally by:
• Improving flexibility
• Building strength
• Reducing joint swelling
• Increasing joint mobility and strength
• Improving balance and stability
• Reducing chances of falling
• Improving cardiovascular health
• Aiding digestion and elimination
• Improving sleep
• Lowering blood pressure and cholesterol
• Improving blood flow
• Improving mood and well-being
• Speeding recovery from surgery
• Aiding in the grieving process
• Reducing depression and anxiety
• Fostering mental calmness
• Reducing feelings of stress
Selecting an Appropriate Type of Yoga
Determining the best type of yoga for you depends on your age, level of fitness, and physical abilities. Unless you are already in good physical shape, the best types of yoga for seniors might be gentle yoga, which focuses on stretching and breathing, and adaptive yoga. For seniors with limited mobility, adaptive chair yoga performed with the support of chairs can be helpful. Another gentle yoga option is water yoga, during which movements are performed easily under water because of a sense of weightlessness.
Receiving Medical Approval
Before beginning a yoga program, especially if you are currently inactive, check with a medical professional to ensure you are healthy enough for yoga. Some health issues may preclude you from engaging in particular types of yoga poses, such as twisting movements if you have back issues or inversions if you have glaucoma.
Yoga Poses for Beginners
Whether you’re a senior or someone younger who is new to yoga, these essential yoga poses for beginners can help you become familiar with and comfortable with yoga. Perform only poses that are within your range of motion and comfort level.
Downward facing dog: stretches and strengthens the whole body
Mountain pose: improves posture and body awareness
Warrior I pose: strengthens the legs and upper arms, improves balance and core strength, stretches hamstrings and hips
Warrior II pose: strengthens the legs and arms, opens the chest and shoulders, tones the abdomen
Extended side angle: strengthens and stretches the legs, hips, and hamstrings; opens the chest and shoulders
Triangle pose: strengthens the legs; stretches the groin, hamstrings, and hips; opens the chest and shoulders; improves hip flexibility and balance
Cat-cow stretch: improves spinal flexibility and abdominal strength
Staff pose: stretches the hamstrings and calves, improves spinal awareness
Cobbler’s pose: opens the hips and groin
Child’s pose: gently stretches the back, hips, thighs, and ankles
Although you can do yoga on your own, learning yoga in an organized yoga class under the direction of a yoga professional can help to ensure you are performing poses correctly. Yoga should not hurt, so if you experience pain, move out of any pose that causes discomfort.
Yoga at Courville
Courville Communities offer weekly yoga sessions to residents. Check the activity calendar to see when yoga classes are scheduled at your Courville senior living community.