Yoga is such a great form of exercise because of the abundant potential health benefits, and the versatility it can offer people of all ages and abilities.
As we get older, we begin to lose strength and mobility and tend to be more susceptible to a variety of pains and aliments.
Yoga can help alleviate aches, while improving strength and flexibility.
Seniors Yoga – Getting Started
If you, or a loved one, is looking to branch out to new healthy and beneficial activity, yoga is an ideal choice.
It is relatively easy to get started and doesn’t require that much preparation.
What should you wear?
Yoga requires a lot of movement, unusual poses and bending, and plenty of stretching.
Therefore, it is important to wear comfortable clothing, that isn’t too loose or cumbersome, or it can impede your actions.
Exercise pants or leggings, with a fitted, light top, and bare feet are the norm.
What else should you bring?
It can be useful to bring a few extra items to make your first session more comfortable.
You should definitely bring a water bottle to keep hydrated, a towel for wiping sweat and drying your mat, and your own mat if you have one. If not, don’t worry, most yoga places can provide a mat.
Yoga for Seniors – What are the different types?
There are a wide variety of yoga types to choose from based on many factors like physical condition, health level, and flexibility.
A few yoga varieties that are recommend for beginners and older adults, may include:
- Chair yoga
- Water yoga
- Gentle yoga
Chair Yoga for Seniors
As you may have guessed from the name, this type of yoga employs the use of a chair to help modify yoga practices for people with mobility issues.
Chair yoga is perfect for people that have difficulty standing for long periods of time or are not able to perform the movements on a floor mat.
The chair is there to offer extra balance and support.
Water yoga classes are typically offered in the pool of your local gym or community centre.
This type of yoga is about as low impact as you can get when it comes to low impact activities. Since there is no pressure on the joints, water yoga is ideal for seniors with chronic joint pain or arthritis.
“Gentle” yoga is basically a class of yoga varieties that are less intense or strenuous than some of the other types.
Gentle yoga types include styles like:
These styles are heavily adapted to fit the individual practitioner’s needs. They allow people to work at their own pace and use modifications and props to help support good form and alignment.
Gentle yoga is generally for newcomers, people with limited mobility, and those looking to reduce stress and anxiety.
Benefits of Yoga for Seniors
Regular yoga sessions can offer a multitude of tremendous health benefits for seniors.
Some of the greatest benefits may be:
- Improved balance and stability
- Pain relief
- Increased strength
- Better sleep
- Reduced blood pressure
- Improved respiratory function
- Improved cognitive function
Balance and Stability
Falls in the home is one of the leading causes of serious injury amongst seniors.
Improving balance and stability can greatly reduce the risk of falls. Yoga increases muscle strength, balance, stability, and flexibility.
Joint and muscle pain is also a serious concern for many older adults.
Regular yoga sessions can help alleviate chronic joint pain by building muscle and improving flexibility around the joints.
Even though yoga is a low impact activity, it can still help improve muscle strength.
Yoga is an ideal strength training exercise, with a very low risk of injury.
A lot of seniors report problems with falling asleep, and then staying asleep. The common approach to correct these problems is through medication.
Research on the effects of yoga on sleep report that it can be very beneficial for seniors. Seniors with insomnia experienced less trouble falling asleep and higher quality of sleep with regular yoga sessions.
Yoga can help reduce the risk of hypertension with meditation and deep breathing practices.
Studies show that yoga can help improve lung function for people with asthma and respiratory disorders.
Breathing techniques in yoga can help manage incidents of breathing complications.
Yoga has also been shown to improve brain function and cognitive ability. It can have positive effects on mental acuity and memory.