Yoga For Seniors:
Seniors who practice yoga daily will enjoy a higher quality of life (according to some studies), increased flexibility and are less prone to injuries. Despite complicated depictions of the exercises, when doing yoga for seniors, adaptations can be made. The modifications made, allow this population to use yoga even if suffering from certain physical ailments.
Checking with a medical professional before trying to exercise regimens is vital!
The core of yoga will always be just that. However, modifications can be made to suit the practitioners needs, whatever they may be.
Interesting Research Finds:
Adapting yoga into elderly living has shown to improve their quality life. For example, improving factors such as sleep quality. In fact, “research has indicated positive effects of yoga in several health related outcomes”, and may be particularly suitable for older adults. This, according to literature from a study protocol on the effects of yoga on well-being and healthy ageing.
The Washington Post highlights a “Yoga in America Study”. The study concluded that 17% of yogi’s are in their 50’s, and 21% are 60 and older. This may be due to the growing body of research evidence that suggests yoga has positive effects on the aging process.
AARP published an article discussing a multitude of reasons to practice yoga specifically in your 50’s, 60’s and 70’s, and how it may benefit the practitioner. For example, helping with stress and hypertension, all the way to strengthening bones, even protecting your joints.
There has been investigative studies into yoga and meditation effects on cellular ageing, which you can read more about here!
In the post that follows, we’d like to discuss various forms of yoga that may be guided or modified, for an aging population.
Here is a Good “Start” Video With Some Modified Chair Yoga Poses
I. Types of Yoga Suitable for Older Adults & The Elderly
a. Chair Yoga
Oftentimes chair yoga is great for practitioners who have balance issues. Also, individuals looking to take things slowly because of their comfort zone with exercise in general.
Chair yoga for seniors is a great place to start if you suffer from limited mobility. Chair yoga is just a form of yoga that implements the use of a chair to help stabilize. The poses performed in this yoga style are adapted to work with a chair. Think of the chair as just another yoga prop, just like with the aide of a yoga block, straps or the yoga wheel.
Asana’s can be modified for your comfort level and strengths as you build a foundation. Then, you can build on the difficulty of poses, even if you choose to remain using the chair.
Yoga is yoga. Just because you are preforming it in a chair doesn’t mean you cannot reap the benefits as if you were doing traditional yoga on a mat. These benefits include mental well-being, lowering stress and anxiety, helping to improve strength and balance, as well as confidence.
Related Article: Gentle Chair Yoga Postures for Seniors
b. Hatha Yoga
This is a type of yoga with an emphasis on physical posture. In Sanskrit, Hatha means force. However, this style is well known for it’s gentle approach. This “style” of yoga (most often) is performed at a slower pace, which makes it perfect for seniors and beginners who want to reap the health benefits of yoga, but don’t have a lot of flexibility and/or experience.
Typically, hatha yoga encompasses both standing and seated postures. Furthermore, it centers heavily on breathing (pranayama), stretch and of course the all important mind-body connection that yoga offers.
Hatha yoga is not just great for the older adult population. It’s also a popular choice for beginner yogi’s. Consequently, because it focuses on static poses which are great for novice yogi’s who are just getting accustomed to the practice.
Don’t let the “static” and “gentle” words fool you. Hatha yoga still is a physical and mental challenge to those who wish to partake. Oftentimes, individuals get in-tune with this style because of how the classes are set-up. Hatha yoga classes typically start with some sort of warm-up, then advance to more elaborate asanas, ending oftentimes with a meditation session to calm and connect the body and mind.
c. Restorative Yoga
One of the most popular and sought after styles of yoga for seniors, is restorative yoga. A “relaxed” style of yoga. As the name implies, focuses on reducing tension in your muscles. Furthermore, employs minimal stretching, focusing more on long holds and enhancing bodily alignment, with each asana.
Restorative yoga is also known for it’s use of yoga props (blankets, bolsters, & blocks) for support as yogi’s sink deeper into each pose. In fact, some poses last up to 5-10 minutes or more, with only 4-6 pose’s being completed, per session.
The goal of restorative yoga is to “restore”, as the name implies. However, doing it in way that is comfortable, and supportive. Thus, achieving not just physical, but emotional and metal calm. You may find in some classes the use of essential oils, guided meditation, and other therapeutic elements to help guide you to complete relaxation and release.
This makes restorative yoga a perfect fit for seniors (or anyone) who may lack the flexibility or want to explore mental and physical calm, but may lack the resources to do it themselves.
d. Iyengar Yoga
Iyengar yoga utilizes precision and perfect form to achieve results. To adjust and ensure exact positions, yoga props such as rubber straps, foam blocks, and incline boards are prevalent. When your think of this style of yoga, think alignment, sequencing, and timing. Iyengar yoga is another style accessible for all ages and functional levels.
The extra help provided by these tools is perfect for providing seniors with a little additional assistance. The practice focuses not so much on immediate perfection on results, but is a progression done in a safe and effective manner.
Iyengar yoga highlights the core of yoga, helping to not just perform physical maneuvering, but looking at the self; energy, mind, and spirit. As with all of the beforementioned styles, Iyengar yoga can be used to enrich and positively effect your life, daily.
Some of the touted benefits of Iyengar yoga include; improving physical and psychological health, releasing emotional tension, and increasing energy levels.
e. Yin Yoga
For seniors that suffer from minimal flexibility, the Yin style of yoga can provide relief. The emphasis of this style of yoga lies in holding poses for more extended periods of time, accompanied by deep breathing techniques. This allows the muscle groups targeted by each pose to get a little extra stretch. This from of yoga places emphases on activating deep connective tissue.
The duration of time for pose holds is most often between 3-5 minutes. Typically, this passive style of yoga offers the practitioner an opportunity to release unwarranted emotions, with a clear focus and more calm mind as it incorporates a more meditative style of practice.
Yin yoga is highly based on the principle of Qi (or energy) pathways. With the efforts and stretching to deeper connective tissues of even the joints and ligaments, these pathways are opened-up, releasing a better flow of energy.
The slow pace and deep stretches make this type of yoga one of the best for seniors who want to be a little more limber. The touted benefits include; decreasing stress on the body, releasing tension, increasing flexibility, and improving circulation.
f. Kundalini Yoga
This is the last style of yoga we’ll discuss for seniors. However, there are others that can be beneficial as well. It is not uncommon for seniors to become more spiritual as they grow older. Kundalini yoga provides an avenue to explore this side of themselves.
Final Thoughts On Yoga For Seniors:
These six disciplines of yoga mean that all seniors can enjoy the health benefits that yoga has to offer. Although some seniors may feel silly if it is their first time exploring what yoga has to offer, the rewards are worth any worries associated with trying something new.
The choice to start practicing yoga as a senior can result in better sleep, improved respiratory function, and might even be a way to make new friends. That being said, grab your yoga mat, try something fun and new!
As always, thanks so much for coming by. We hope to have your again soon. Be sure to share our posts on your social media platforms!