Yoga for seniors

Do you want to stay active in your golden years? Yoga might be the perfect activity for you! Yoga has many benefits for seniors, including improved flexibility and balance, increased strength and energy, and a better sense of well-being.

In this blog post, we will discuss the benefits of yoga for seniors, as well as some gentle yoga poses that can be performed seated in a chair.

Yoga for seniors

Why you should start doing yoga

It's never too late to get on the path to improving your health or starting a regular yoga practice. Specifically for those entering their golden years, yoga can provide a relatively safe environment for exercise.

With some 35+ Million people regularly practicing yoga, it won't take long to find a studio and community regardless of age or skill level.

As more and more individuals begin to understand the benefits of yoga, the community will only continue to grow, especially among the senior community as generation x and the baby boomers begin to look for safer forms of exercise.

How to start doing yoga for seniors

If you're a complete beginner, the best way to start your yoga journey is in a yoga studio with an experienced teacher. This will allow you to learn the proper form and alignment for each pose, as well as get a feel for the yoga community.

If you're not ready to commit to a studio just yet or you don't have one in your area, there are plenty of yoga videos available online. YouTube is a great resource full of tons of different workouts for every skill level.

For seniors with a limited range of motion or balance issues, chair yoga is a fantastic alternative.

A non-traditional option: Chair Yoga for Seniors

Chair yoga is great for seniors who experience mobility or balance difficulties. A large variety of posture options are available for different needs. Chair yoga is attainable and supportive by offering sitting and standing options. 

Pose Variations for Seniors

If you are a beginner, start with these yoga pose variations that can all be performed from a chair.

Half Camel Pose: This yoga pose helps to open up the chest and improve posture. To do this pose, sit on the edge of your chair with your feet flat on the floor. Place your hands on your lower back, and lean back as far as you feel comfortable. Hold for five breaths.

Seated forward bend: This yoga pose stretches the hamstrings and lower back. To do this pose, sit on the edge of your chair with your feet flat on the floor. Reach your arms overhead, then slowly fold forward from your hips until your torso is parallel to the floor. Hold for five breaths.

Cat-cow pose: This yoga pose helps to increase mobility in the spine. To do this pose, sit on the edge of your chair with your feet flat on the floor and your hands on your knees. As you inhale, arch your back and look up toward the ceiling. As you exhale, round your back and tuck your chin toward your chest. Repeat five times.

Eagle arms: This yoga pose helps to increase shoulder mobility. To do this pose, sit on the edge of your chair with your feet flat on the floor and your arms by your sides. Raise your arms up over your head sideways and bring your right arm underneath your left arm.

Wrap your arms around each other and try to clasp your hands together. Hold for five breaths, then repeat on the other side.

Warrior III: This yoga pose helps to improve balance and strengthen the legs. To do this pose, stand behind your chair with your feet hip-width apart. Place your hands on the back of the chair for support.

Lift your left leg straight behind you and lean your torso forward from the hips until your torso is parallel to the floor and your left leg is perpendicular to the floor. Hold for five breaths, then repeat on the other side.

These are just a few examples of the variations you can do to the most commonly practiced poses. You can find full routines and breakdowns of the seated and standing poses through the below.

In-Person Yoga Classes for Seniors

It is highly recommended to start your yoga journey with a private yoga session to get the expertise of a qualified instructor. Safety is the highest priority and performing the postures correctly will provide the best long term results. 

Many older adults are also enjoying social interaction when they meet other people with similar interests. A quick google search will bring up the yoga studios in your area. Otherwise, check out your local YMCA, or check out the group fitness classes at your local gym. Some community centers and organizations specifically provide yoga classes for seniors.

What's the best type of yoga for seniors?

Yoga helps with your body strength, circulation as well as joint movement. With so many different styles available, you can always find a style that is best for you.

Remember that your fitness needs and fitness levels are key considerations. Consult with a healthcare provider before starting any sort of exercise regimen.

The most common styles of yoga include: Vinyasa, Hatha, Iyengar, Bikram (Hot), Ashtanga, Yin, Restorative, Kundalini, and Prenatal.

Most yoga studios offer several classes in different styles for varying skill levels.

Benefits of Yoga for Older Adults

Yoga encourages a mind body connection and combines stretching and strengthening postures with deep breathing and relaxation. Although the practice of yoga has been developed from Eastern philosophy, the West generally emphasizes physical fitness.

While there are spiritual and mental benefits, there isn't a shortage of any physical benefits, which may include: improved core strength, lower blood pressure, greater core stability, an increase in muscle mass, and greater bone density.

Regardless of why you start practicing yoga, the key point is to remain consistent with it. The social aspect alone has immense health benefits.