Yoga is a great form of exercise for seniors. Many yoga postures can increase flexibility, mobility, strength, and balance through low-impact movement. Psychologically, it can help keep your mind sharp and increase positive emotions, mindfulness, and self-awareness.
How Seniors Can Benefit from Yoga
It is tempting to look at some of the extreme yoga poses depicted in movies and think that it is not an activity for our older adults. However, a good yoga instructor will find poses that work for any of their students. The benefits are not derived from hitting a specifically difficult pose but in moving one’s body mindfully toward that pose within your own individual limits.
A yoga class taught by an instructor that is aware of the challenges and limitations of an older student can yield many benefits:
Yoga works on a healing premise that brings the mind, body and breath together to perform various poses. For example, as a mood booster, poses that open the chest and pull shoulders back, such as the Bridge or Modified Bridge poses, counteract the fact that, when stressed or anxious, we tend to round our shoulders and cave inward. Body language experts have determined that even moving into a posture that conveys strength, power, and confidence will inspire that feeling within ourselves.
Yoga is Adaptable
About half of Americans over the age of 65 have a disability related to hearing, vision, or walking. More than 87% of seniors take at least one prescription drug and nearly 60% take 3 or more.
All of these can affect balance and the ability to understand or work through complex steps. It is important to find a yoga instructor who is familiar with some of the challenges of older adults. A certified yoga instructor should be familiar with adaptations to the traditional poses and attentive enough to step in to guide your loved one through these adaptations. Classes that are set up with a competitive feel may not be appropriate for someone who needs the extra attention.
Yoga can be adapted even to senior students who are chair-bound, with a variety of spine and hip strengthening exercises taking place in a seated position. As your loved one gains strength, the chair can become a stabilizing prop for leg and ankle poses as well.
Source: Duke Integrative Medicine
Types of Yoga
When looking for a class or instructor, there are many types of yoga to be aware of:
When Is Yoga Not Recommended?
While yoga is a highly adaptable practice, some conditions can make it riskier:
- Unregulated blood pressure
- Advanced Parkinson’s Disease
- Advanced Alzheimer’s Disease
- Spinal degeneration
- Medications that cause dizziness
Consult with your senior’s physician to determine if yoga is an appropriate activity. Sometimes, if it is something your loved one has their heart set on, it can still be accomplished in a one-on-one class with an instructor who is familiar with their health challenges.
Source: Philips Lifeline
Yoga is a wonderful activity for seniors. If you or any senior you know would like to try yoga with a senior partner, we can help.
Seniors Helping Seniors® is an in-home care and companionship service, and our senior caregivers can help you get started with yoga, assist with cooking, run shopping errands, do light housekeeping, provide transportation, and much more. We service all of Southwest Broward County, Florida.